La Boite presents
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/
- Minh Tran for his short film ‘Awake In My Sleep’
- 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.
AA Filmmaker Matthew Victor Pastor wins Best Director & New Voices Award at the 47th Annual Victorian College of the Arts graduate film awards
Asian Australian filmmaker Matthew Victor Pastor was recently the recipient of the Best Director *Master’s, and New Voice awards at the 47th Annual Victorian College of the Arts graduate film awards.
His short film I am JUPITER I am the BIGGEST PLANET is a harsh look into the realities of his motherland the Philippines, the exploitation of Women and how the Western world interacts with South-East Asia.
The film will have one more screening at ACMI on Saturday 12th December at 3:30pm as part of the VCA graduation film sessions in Program A. Be sure not to miss it alongside the other graduate films before they embark on their international film festival journey. Tickets: http://vca.unimelb.edu.au/engage/vca-47th-annual-graduate-screenings
IW: What does your film set out to do?
JUPITER is a film about harsh realities and truths. In a world where we are so distracted by selfies, food pics, social media and other distractions a film like JUPITER exists to shake the audience.
“Silence in the Red-Light District of Manila”, is the films short yet sweet synopsis to reinforce the non-dialogue aspect of the storytelling. Without words there is an uncomfortable silence and dialogue is not important to express a message about how human beings are treated just across our shores.
IW: Who was involved with the production of JUPITER? What was the filmmaking process like?
Andrew Leavold (The Search For Weng Weng), Lisac Pham (lead actor) and Olive De Leon (production manager) helped get the ball rolling. Andrew our associate producer set the groundwork in Manila for me to connect with the local filmmaking community. My wife Lisac Pham spent months in rehearsal and researching to get into character and together we rented a room in the heart of the Red Light District to be close to the subject matter. Olive De Leon spent countless nights helping with contracts, location permits and dealing with the local police to make sure we could film. We also flew out local Melbourne filmmaker Gregory Pakis to play the sleazy sex tourist. The production process from writing script to editing was a 8 month period for myself and Lisac, which also put a lot of strain on our marriage. The production process could be described as picking at a fresh scab and watching it bleed and then being proud of the scar later.
IW: What are your future plans?
We are hoping to get a world premiere at an international film festival so we are sending it out now. Recently Lisac Pham and I also co-directed a feature film BUTTERFLY FLOWER: Please Wait To Be Seated. We are also currently finishing post-production on it. BUTTERFLY FLOWER is an experimental film which features the writing/poetry of Filipino poet & film director (father of Philippine Digital Filmmaking) Khavn De La Cruz. He inspired us to film BUTTERFLY FLOWER over kebabs at Stalactite’s when he was in town to premiere Ruined Heart at the 2015 Melbourne International Film Festival. He challenged us to to shoot the whole film in under 24 hours like his ‘Day Old Flick Manifesto’. It was great to create a film quickly and raw, a timestamp of the creativity of that moment. In the future I’d like to continue making movies which take years, and some which take a day. I like extremes.
An interview with Kevin Bathman, AAFFN 2015 Event panelist by Indigo Willing.
Kevin Bathman is a visual designer, storyteller, curator, writer and social change advocate based in Sydney. He is interested in using creativity to address environmental, cultural and social justice issues, and believes that the arts is an untapped avenue for catalysing change. As the founder of social enterprise, Coalition of Mischief, Kevin has worked on numerous social justice projects with not-for-profit and arts organisations to help them communicate their message better. In 2013, he co-founded Carnival of the Bold, a movement of arts for social change. Since 2012, Kevin has been researching the history, connections and cross-cultural stories between the Chinese and Indian culture for his project, The Chindian Diaries.
We are fed an abundance of Hollywood films in Australia – but to me, what that industry clear lacks are a diversity of actors, stories and writers. To be honest, I was tired of seeing the Australian arts and creative sector be dominated overwhelmingly by white, male-driven heteronormative narratives. Why was this sector not reflecting what Australia really looks like? When it came time to curate Carnival of the Bold, I made it a point to include diverse voices – voices that we rarely hear or see, voices that more often gets rejected or sidelined due to its “non-mainstream” narrative.
Describe one of your favourite moments as a festival programmer?
What do Australians gain when they see diversity on the screen? What’s the feedback like?
A new perspective, a new way of living, a new way of thinking. People generally don’t know what they don’t know. In the arts sector, it takes a brave festival and film curator to expose new narratives to audiences. In many respects, they are bound by the marketability of the film/artist and the need to pander to what their audiences are already familiar with. It then takes tremendous effort to convince funders, board members and committee to go down a new path. Once they succeed, you run the risk of audiences not turning up or keeping away due to its “foreign” content.
What are you working on now? And what are you working on or would love to be doing next?
27-28 November 2015
Kaleide Theatre, RMIT University, Melbourne
Joy Hopwood was a former Presenter of A.B.C.’s Play School, a writer, blogger, teacher, lecturer, public speaker. She was an ambassador for Mission Australia and Cancer Council NSW and was nominated twice for the Australian of the Year awards. Joy was a contributing writer for Growing Up Asian in Australia (Black Inc Books), Chinese Australian Women’s Stories (Jessie St Library / CHAA) and Reflecting on Life (Pearson Education). She wrote and created “The Wong Side of Life” theatre play, and transformed it into a video form titled “Kindness is for Free” ( an anti-bullying & anti-racism initiative in schools). She also founded and is artistic director of the yearly Joy House Film Festival. Joy blogs, writes, acts & makes films.
Describe one of your favourite moments as a festival programmer?JH:
What do Australians gain when they see diversity on the screen? What’s the feedback like?JH:
I’m busy working on next year’s Joy House Film Festival and busy writing at the moment. I’m also writing a story at the moment and hope to share it with an audience in late 2016.
For more info about the AAFFN 2015 event in Melbourne in November visit:
27-28 November 2015
Kaleide Theatre, RMIT University, Melbourne
Australian Asian auteur Matthew Victor Pastor will screen the world premiere of his new short film Xuống Dưới (Down Under) at the 15th DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival. Down Under will be shown on as part of their shorts program ‘We Are The Choices We Make’, starting at 6:00pm on Saturday April 18, 2015.
A surreal painting of moving lights, Xuống Dưới captures the melancholy of lost love and rejection amidst the emptiness that is found in a restless city” – Joyce Ng (Editor, JOM Magazine)
“Down Under is very personal film to me. In many ways it’s my suicide note. Death has been on my mind a lot lately, and how love is connected to death. My earlier works, the feature film Made In Australia and the short film Dinky Di Aussie were about my qualms with Australian culture and the Westernization of Asian culture growing up in modern Australia. There is a cultural subtext to this movie as it’s still about two connecting nations represented by my characters, but the emotional core of this film is the idea of how memories act as ghost’s, which haunt us. Even after something as certain as death, the living still can’t forget the imprint the dead have left. The past is a spirit, which can take hold for eternity. I was in love with a beautiful woman while writing this film, but I still couldn’t help continue my narcissistic needs, and my lonely and selfish desires. I love her dearly. This film is my apology, my suicide note, our story.”
The program will be held at US Navy Memorial Burke Theatre located at 701 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC 20004. If you are reading from the US check out his latest film.
Keep updated at www.facebook.com/matthewvictorpastor
Interview with Pearl Tan by AAFFN’s Indigo Willing
Pearl Tan is the director of Pearly Productions, creating independent films and producing videos for businesses and arts organisations. Her work focuses on diversity, as the creator of YouTube series ‘Minority Box’ and as co-chair of the Equity Diversity Committee. She graduated from the NIDA Acting course in 2005. Originally from Western Australia, she also holds a Communications degree majoring in Media Studies from Edith Cowan University. In 2013 she received a Business Leader Postgraduate Scholarship from the University of Sydney to undertake a Master of Commerce, specialising in Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In 2009 she received a Mike Walsh Fellowship to attend the New York Film Academy. She teaches filmmaking at NIDA, screen acting at the Actors Centre Australia and has worked behind the scenes for Channel 7, Channel 9, Network 10, Perth’s 96fm and Faith Martin Casting. Her credits as an actor include Motel (Sydney Theatre Company/Wharf 2Loud), Love’s Triumph (Darlinghurst Theatre) feature films Home Song Stories, Sleeping Beauty and for television Channel 9’s Sea Patrol and ABC’s Nowhere Boys. Follow @PearlyProductns on twitter or visit http://www.pearlyproductions.com for more information.
Tell us about one ‘easy’ and one, ‘oh, so awkward’ experience you had when you first started out in the screen scene?
My first gig out from NIDA was a small role as a nurse in Home Song Stories, directed by the amazing Tony Ayres. I was acting so theatrically and in a hospital scene, pushed a food trolley out in this huge arc towards “the audience” (the camera) then to the patient and Tony said, just move it like you would normally, directly to the patient… and I thought, oh yeah, duh… that felt ‘oh, so awkward’. In the same job there was a scene where I didn’t have any scripted lines, but they wanted us to impro. Joan Chen’s character was in the scene, so I threw a “Hello Aunty” at her, which she had to respond to… so now I can say I’ve acted with her. That was ‘easy’!
Can you describe the first and last time you looked at the screen and thought, yes, this director or actor has made me want to get out there and do more in terms of promoting and seeing diversity on the screen?
My drive to create diverse content comes from quite a personal space. I realised, through the types of roles I was getting auditions for, my range as an actor in Australia was limited by my ethnicity. Seeing the many diverse and immensely talented graduates coming out of drama schools, I really wanted to contribute by working towards expanding the industry to allow them more access to professional work.
Tell us about one of the most ridiculously silly or offensive roles or characters you can recall so far that made you shake your head and feel very frustrated concerning stereotypes about diversity and ethnicity?
I won’t mention specifics, but I do shake my head and feel frustrated when I see a talented actor, from a minority ethnicity, working in an accent, when it seems irrelevant to the story, and I’m aware that their natural accent is Australian. It happens frequently.
What is a classic good example of a film and casting with diversity that isn’t token or stereotypical for you?
Deborah Mailman in ‘The Secret Life of Us’. One of the rare instances on Australian television where the ethnic heritage of a character wasn’t pertinent or referenced in the major storylines.
As a director and filmmaker you have covered comedy and breaking away from ‘dominant’ narratives of family with the short film Babycake, which features a lesbian couple and a gay couple starting a family. The cast is multicultural. And you are in the driving seat as director. Can you share any positive feedback have you had?
My favourite feedback is from gay and lesbian couples who have had children and find the story amusing. One lesbian mother even told me that they were almost offended that the characters almost naturally conceived and were relieved when they didn’t (spoiler!), which makes me laugh. No one talks about the diversity of the cast, which I think is a good thing, as it’s somewhat irrelevant to the story. Some people say it’s quite risky and done in a unique style, which I’ll take as a compliment!
The community of actors in Australia is a richly diverse one, although minorities tend not to get an abundance of the screen time. With Minority Box you have so far covered the challenges that four different populations experience as actors via short interviews (with at least 6 to 8 in each episode): Asian Australians, Indian Australian males, African Australian females and Middle aged women. What are some of the universal issues these actors face?
What I’ve enjoyed the most from creating Minority Box is meeting and talking to the actors off screen. What is remarkable about all of them is their tenacity and acceptance of insecurity that comes with being an actor. I see a beautiful vulnerability in all of them that is a strong, passionate, unapologetic craving to tell great stories and affect people’s lives. Almost all of them have aspirations to create their own work and I get really excited when actors take the power back and leap into producing (hopefully) quality, utterly unique and robust characters.
Keeping the focus for now to Minority Box, what main type of audiences would you like to watch this series and why?
Currently the audience are actors and industry people who have an interest in diversity. They are a wonderfully supportive audience and I am grateful for their eyeballs and subscriptions! I would love for this to open up more widely so that general Australian audiences can have an awareness of the depth of diverse talent in our country and start to demand with ticket sales and their remote controls more uniquely Australian (as opposed to stereotypically Australian) stories.
You were recognised as a finalist for “Best Factual Series” and shortlisted for the “Innovation Award” and “Best Collaboration” Award for Minority Box. What other types of positive outcomes and feedback have you got so far?
Generally people are very encouraging and excited to see something positive being made (without it being just a whinge-fest). They always ask me when the next episode will be out, which is difficult because I’m doing it in my living room, in my spare time… so it takes me around 6 months to complete one short video! My favourite thing about it is when I hear that actors have been cast from the series (which has happened a couple of times!), or that directors or producers note that they will be more considerate of diverse performers as a result.
Pearly Productions and the Symes Group are launching the Independent Theatre Diversity Fund. What’s the main goals of this fund and why did it become necessary to begin?
The main goals of this fund are to give talented independent producers a way of putting on a show with more ease. We will provide a small cash budget, rehearsal space, a video trailer, stills photography, marketing and social media strategy advice and anything else that I can think of and can find support for! There are wonderful examples of great indigenous work being produced (Sapphires, Redfern Now, Black Comedy etc) that are a result of financial support and mentorship from places like Screen Australia and the Australia Council. Learning from this model, I’d love to support diverse work in a more general way to allow more opportunities for development of these unique storytellers. It also aims to bring awareness at a grassroots level, as it will encourage independent producers seeking financial and in-kind support for their show to analyse whether their production includes diversity; if the answer is yes they can apply and if it’s a no, and they now have a fresh awareness of their lack of diversity… and that in itself is a good outcome.
Who are some of the people you’ve been able to work with who have pushed you hard to achieve and made you further believe in yourself and your vision for the screen?
I don’t think I need much pushing to achieve… I’m probably my own best and worst pusher! My incredibly talented friends are incredibly supportive and inspire me when they take their own risks in creating stories that are important to them. Every time I see a talented actor from a diverse background kicking butt, it inspires me to create more opportunities in anyway I can to get them out there in the hope that there will be more visibility of minorities in the mainstream eventually.
What’s next for you?
I will continue to chip away at producing many more Minority Box videos. I’m currently smack bang in the middle of a Master of Commerce, majoring in Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, on a Business Leader Postgraduate Scholarship. This is giving me the skills to create things like the Independent Theatre Diversity Fund and with 10% of Pearly Production profits now pledged back to diversity in the arts, I hope to expand my business and find more innovative ways to generate more diverse visibility and share more inclusive stories. I’m also getting employed as a director more and more with diverse content, which is really satisfying and fun, and look forward to collaborating with more passionate and like-minded people to create more momentum. As Co-Chair of the Equity Diversity Committee alongside Bali Padda and as a National Performers Committee member with Actors Equity Australia we have a few campaigns around diversity planned that are quite fresh and positive… so much… so much to do, so much we can chip away at changing, it’s all very exciting!
View the short film Babycake below: