Story on SBS about Asian Australian filmmakers pushing for more representation.
Currently on TV
Cast includes Andy Trieu and Maria Tran in a comedy that’s been embraced by a big time network & mainstream audience. Good laughs to have, good people in the whole ensemble.
Hello!!!! Happy (Lunar) New Year for 16 Feb 2018!!!!
Wow is it really February already? This year’s moving fast! We’ve also been a bit quiet on the blogging front but things have been super busy for the AAFFN and one of our original and long term supporters and sponsors.
Dr Tseen Khoo, founder and former convener of the Asian Australian Studies Research Network (AASRN), blogger, academic and all round guru of the Asian Australian scene has her first article for Eureka Street now up online where she asks the important question “Where are the Asians on screen in 2018?”.
In related news the AASRN now has a new convener and mix in its line up. Read about it here and welcome to the new convener Dr Mridula Chakraborty. She is based at Monash University and Deputy Director of the Monash Asia Institute – bio. We also can’t stress how influential and amazing Dr Khoo has been in her prior role. There’s barely a scholar doing research in the Asian Australian community over the past twenty years who has not benefited from her magic and wisdom. Hail queen Tseen!
We had an absolute blast and were so excited and enriched by our invitation and trip to the 6th Asian Australian Identities conference, co-sponsored by the AASRN, Monash and held at the Immigration Museum last November in Melbourne. The event was co-convened by Dr Chakraborty and Dr Jessica Walton. Two AAFFN conveners were presenters at the conference, with Dr Indigo Willing OAM presenting an invited paper on Asian American/Australian Identities and Representations in the Subculture of Skateboarding (and with reflections on her background as skateboarder and one of the co-founders of Girls Skate Brisbane), and Dr Sukmanhi Khorana providing insights on a study of television as part of an ARC Linkage (with Prof. Kate Darian-Smith, Prof. Sue Turnbull, ACMI, and the Immigration Museum) on role of television in migration – 2016-2019 – AAI6 program PDF accessible here.
This year at AAFFN we are continuing to promote and share news about the Asian Australian screen scene, mostly behind the scenes ourselves but with the occasional post planned for here. Plus don’t forget to find us on our socials!:
and Twitter @AAFFN
May the New Year of the Dog be a great one for you all!
AAFFN Co-Conveners Dr Indigo Willing OAM, Dr Sukhmani Khorana and Amadeo Marquez-Perez
WHO: Matthew Victor Pastor (MVP) is an Australian filmmaker of Filipino heritage. Graduating from the Masters (narrative) program at the prestigious Victorian College of the Arts, his short film I am JUPITER I am the BIGGEST PLANET was awarded Best Director and the New Voice Award. The film set in the red light district of Manila, Philippines has screened around the world and was nominated for the Academy Award qualifying, Golden Reel at the 33rd Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. In 2013 he released MADE IN AUSTRALIA an independent feature film. It was awarded Best Guerrilla Film at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF). Released in 2017 is BUTTERFLY FLOWER: Please Wait To Be Seated (70 mins) an experimental feature film, which was co-directed with Vietnamese filmmaker Lisac Pham. Currently in post-production and set for a 2018 release are two more feature films MELODRAMA / RANDOM / MELBOURNE! (85 mins) and MAGANDA! “Pinoy Boy vs Milk Man” (130 mins). These two films are part of the ‘Fil-Aus’ trilogy starting with JUPITER, and concluding with MAGANDA. In production is his 5th feature film currently titled REPENT OR PERISH! Set during the 2017 nationwide plebiscite, this LGBT film explores sexual identity amongst a conservative suburban Pinoy family.
AAFFN interview with Indigo Willing:
Asian Australian (AA) men have long faced a bias against them on the screen. They are rarely allowed to be in the role of a lead character. Additionally, it seems almost an unspoken rule amongst the mainstream writers and directors that AA men are incapable of carrying off romantic roles. And if they do, they are usually infatuated by a white character and then killed off. How then, one might ask, can AA men who love someone (of any ‘race’) ever connect themselves to characters on the screen who are void of complex emotions, the euphoria, the tenderness, the joy as well as the desperation and upheaval, the jealous waves, and heart wrenching moments of falling in love? Where can they see characters who convey the proper sting of break ups that they themselves experience? And for AA men, the focus of this article, when can they see the clashing contradictions, highs and lows of being both socially privileged yet also humbled and gutted by things such as racism, classism, cultural marginality, transnational mobility and other things that can be part of these AA men’s lives? One answer is in the short films and independent features of AA directors who tackle these aspects of toxic to fragile masculinity, careless and cautious sexuality and cross-cultural identities directly. Matthew Victor Pastor (MVP) is one such director, actor and writer.
IW: We met in 2011 and things have been moving along rapidly for AA men on TV (Ben Law, Andy Trieu, Lawrence Leung, Ronnie Cheng), but how about film? What is the going on for AA filmmakers? What are your feelings on their opportunities lately?
MVP: Much respect to those names, they are kicking goals both here and abroad! My personal opinion is that things are pretty much the same for AA filmmakers, but I’d like to focus on the positives. With digital equipment never has it been more possible to make a feature film of quality. I’ve only made more content with less opportunity (onto my third feature for the year). I also did a feature in 2016 ‘BUTTERFLY FLOWER.’ It’s a lot of hard work, I’m getting old. At 28 I feel pain after 24 hours on the grind. A few years ago I didn’t feel that, so if you’re young use the energy. I still think us AA’s have to make their own opportunities. Does a doctor make the appointments? Does a teacher show up to teach the class? Do us filmmakers make films? It’s just something that I do, I make films. We live in such a privileged country, so why the fear? It’s our responsibility to tell stories. I think we also need to really work together. Talent is everywhere, so we need more directors from Asian backgrounds to actually make films. Recently I have so much faith in the next generation. I’ve been rolling with these 18 year olds on my new film. I got heaps of faith in them, they are so daring.
IW: Tell me your thoughts on Asian men being seen differently by the West in terms of romantic interests? Or even just as lead actors who aren’t busting down martial arts moves? What range of characters do we see and how do the ones in your film boost that or even differ?
MVP: We literally just filmed some romantic love-making scenes for a feature film called A prayer for the Filo Fam <3. The story is set during the 2017 postal plebiscite for same-sex marriage. The film features some beautiful and vulnerable Asian-Australian performances. I write Asian men as all kinds of people. My work has a wide range of personalities for all, but all these traits come from story. In the feature ‘MELODRAMA / RANDOM / MELBOURNE!’ our lead Bridget O’Brien plays a Asian documentary maker following the MRM (Men’s Rights Movement). In ‘MAGANDA! “Pinoy Boy vs Milk Man”’, I play a drug addicted filmmaker slaying the ghosts of his past. In BUTTERFLY FLOWER Lisac Pham was a painter turned prostitute, turned madame. Those are just a few of the leads, and their stories. In Australia I feel there’s are new school of young AA acting talent in Celina Yuen, Justin Wang, Kevin Pham, Joseph J Lai, Bridget O’ Brien, Slone Sudiro and Chi Nguyen who I’ve had the honour of directing in complex amazing performances. Also, in terms of pioneers, in A prayer for the Filo Fam ,3 veteran actor Alfred Nicdao plays a righteous father dealing with sin.
IW: There’s a lot of pressure for to conform to middle-class expectations of tastefulness and art in film making. How do you relate to that as a storyteller?
MVP: I try to ignore the pressure to conform in all aspects. In some way, Asians have a bit of uphill battle with the stereotypes such as ‘model minority’, amongst others. It’s very easy to get stuck in a box of how they dictate our identity. Personally I write outrageous stories. I think the key is to be interesting, then stories will burst out of you with honesty. Asians in Australia have got to find a balance between their parents identity and their own. Maybe the first step is to throw yourself into something crazy. End up in hospital. Start a relationship. Impulsively marry someone. End up divorced. Move back in with your parents and embrace them for a moment. Spend a night with some dude you meet on the street. Couch surf. Almost burn your apartment down. Take a loan out and travel. Hustle. The key is to be a sponge. If you spend most your time in the CBD, you’ll see lots of young Asians living the city life. We should be reflecting those stories. We need to make something like Ana Kokkinos’s ‘Head On.’ For many of us young second generation Aussies, then and now it’s so heartbreakingly relatable. It’s our reality.
IW: Tell me about your big Australian Filipino trilogy
MVP: Although Pinoys are the 5th largest migration group in Australia where are the stories in film? I want to see them told by Filipino-Australian filmmakers! My trilogy aims to explore these repressed emotions. Part one was my VCA graduation thesis film, I am JUPITER I am the BIGGEST PLANET, a short set in the red light district of Manila. Part two and three are in post-production and we will soon be submitting them to film festivals. MELODRAMA / RANDOM / MELBOURNE!, is a feature film where we follow a bunch of young disillusioned Fil-Aus through their fractured inner city lives. Part 3 MAGANDA! “Pinoy Boy vs Milk Man” is a mind bending exploitation film throwback, with a dual narrative (it’s my take on a grind house film) about the drug addicted director of the film. These stories confront our fractured identity filled with shame, denial, brutality, silence, repression, castration and death. If I were a true cynic I’d end on that note, however, if you stick with me through the blood and semen, you will witness a climax which portrays love, transformation and ultimately acceptance in the holiest of Milk Facials ever committed to cinema.
Matthew Victor Pastor’s films BUTTERFLY FLOWER, Down Under & LOVE with the POET are currently streaming on www.chopso.com
The Family Law TV Series adapted from the book of the same name by Ben Law has received the green light for its second series. More here.
Single Asian Female
By Michelle Law
An incisive new comedy skewering race and gender in contemporary Australia from Brisbane-based award winning writer Michelle Law. Step into the after-hours of a suburban Chinese restaurant and meet a family of whip smart women who are definitely talking about you in their native tongue.
Set on the Sunshine Coast this hilarious play answers what it means to be an Asian woman living in Australia.
For Pearl, a Chinese migrant operating a restaurant, it means sacrifice and struggling to connect with her very westernised children.
For Zoe, the eldest child, it means approaching a crossroads in her life where she’s forced to choose between a career and a family.
For Mei, the youngest child, it means being bullied at school and grappling with the desire to assimilate versus cultivating a unique identity.
Two sisters at odds with each other and a mother harboring a secret that threatens to tear her family apart, Australian domesticity like you’ve never seen it before.
Director Claire Christian Designer Moe Assaad Composer/Sound Designer Wil Hughes Lighting Design Keith Clark Performers Hsiao-Ling Tang, Courtney Stewart, Alex Lee, Emily Burton, Patrick Jhanur and Emily Vascotto
Play details here
Join the editors of the Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas (ADVA) journal for a toast as they launch the latest ADVA journal — a special double issue “Island Worlds, Oceanic Diasporas, & Global Flows” guest edited by Tom Looser, Margo Machida, and Francis Maravillas. ADVA journal is published by Brill and is a collaboration between A/P/A Institute at New York University and Concordia University’s Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art.
Waleed Aly wins Gold Logi, Lee Lin Chin nominated, Dami at Eurovision, SBS Pop Asia on fire – good times! Diversity! Congratulations to various Asian Australians making life on the screen more diverse. Recently, this also includes the below plus for more updates regularly follow us on FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/AsianAustralianFilmForum:-
- Tony Ayres for an International Emmy for Nowhere Boys
Story at Daily Mail
- Maria Tran for her role in ‘Tracer’ released in Australia in May 2016, with Vietnamese cast and English subtitles. Tran has also been nominated to participate in Screen Producers Australia’s ‘Ones to Watch – Next Generation of Producers’ program for 2016. More info: https://screenproducers.org.au/news/next-generation-of-producers/
- Raina Peterson and Govind Pillai
‘In Plain Sanskrit’ – Performance soon with Raina Peterson and Govind Pillai – trailer by Jacqueline Erasmus.
- Performance 4a http://www.performance4a.org.au for their ongoing events and activities promoting Asian Australians in the theatre and on the screen
- John Prasida and Alfred Nicdao in TOMORROW, WHEN THE WAR BEGAN TV 6 part TV series on ABC3 running in May 2016
- Charlotte Nicdao for her article in DAILY LIFE about the challenges non-White Australian actors face:
- Max Brown who was featured in ‘Bringing Them Home’ for a special screening on ANZAC Day. SYNOPSIS: Samuel Tongway was born in Australia, the son of Chinese immigrants. After enlisting to fight in World War I, he was told his services would not be required, as he was not of “sufficient European blood”. The program is viewable this month at: http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/bringing-our-stories-home/ZW0681A005S00
Thank you to everyone who spoke at, attended and supported our AAFFN 2015 event in Melbourne – a creatively fuelled weekend free to the public and dedicated to promoting Asian Australians on and behind the screen. Photos below by Nikkei Australia and Mayu Kanamori who kindly shot and shared them with AAFFN.