Author Archives: indigowilling

AAFFN’s 10th anniversary in 2021

Hard to believe it’s coming up to the AAFFN’s 10th anniversary this November, 2021. To celebrate have a look with us and spot the familiar faces in this AAFFN Launch Video directed in 2011 by Maria Tran and produced by AAFFN co-founder Dr Indigo Willing with support from Dr Tseen Khoo from AASRN.

We are super stoked have featured actor Chris Pang before he was cast in Crazy Rich Asians, plus screen presenter, martial artist and actor Andy Trieu who, with his signature charm and comedy, offered some very sound advice. Also see more uplifting and positive insights in the video offered many other actors, directors and screen professionals who have achieved many ‘firsts’ and opened many doors for other Asian Australians creatives and academis. Keep supporting us please at Asian Australian Film Forum & Network (AAFFN) and especially on twitter @AAFFN where we continue to cover community achievements and activities regularly.

Video summary: The creative visions, experiences, advice and ‘real talk’ about why it’s important to have Asian Australians active on and behind the screen:

AAFFN Launch Video
Chris Pang in 2011 AAFFN Launch Video

2020 – AAFFN supports Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter in the USA, globally and also locally and it is important to identify and dismantle systemic racism and enduring forms of colonialism at all levels of society and big institutions.

We have been regularly re-tweeting and sharing petitions, fundraisers and protests on our Twitter @aaffn to direct Asian Australians in our community to listen to and support First Nations communities, activists, health professionals, psychologists and academics sharing about related issues. We also wish to express gratitude to the many individuals and collectives who are non-Asians who have been behind us during the corona virus racism and speaking up for refugees and more, including from First Nations, Latinx and African Australian leaders and community groups.

We are thankful and dedicated to anti-racism, pushing for justice and offering solidarity and support, while also acknowledging we are on unceded Aboriginal Land. We may not always get it right but that’s no excuse to not do the work, listen, learn, and then do more work.

We also urge our community to follow First Nations media, journalists and writers to educate and communicate support to end systemic racism at all levels. The below is just a glimpse and in no way a comprehensive list:

Indigenous X

98.9FM Brisbane

ABC’s Bridget Brennan. on ABC’s The Insiders here

Associate Professor Chelsea Watego on The Drum here

Meyne Wyatt monologue from his play City of Gold on ABC’s QandA here

Professor Sandy O’Sullivan has also provided a comprehensive list of articles written by Indigenous experts from various professions and academic fields on their Twitter account here and they then added more on FB here

Nationwide news sources (there are many more):

ABC Indigenous


End Black Deaths in Custody – see Black Deaths Inside Database and Story in the Guardian

Please support:

Sisters Inside

In My Blood it Runs out today by Maya Newell

Asian Australian Maya Newell has directed a documentary feating the story of Dujuan Hoosan from Arrernte/Garrwa First Nations. Read more below:-

Screen Shot 2020-02-20 at 3.22.22 pm


Ten-year-old Dujuan is a child-healer, a good hunter and speaks three languages. As he shares his wisdom of history and the complex world around him we see his spark and intelligence. Yet Dujuan is ‘failing’ in school and facing increasing scrutiny from welfare and the police. As he travels perilously close to incarceration, his family fight to give him a strong Arrernte education alongside his western education lest he becomes another statistic. We walk with him as he grapples with these pressures, shares his truths and somewhere in-between finds space to dream, imagine and hope for his future self.


Maya Newell

Director. Producer. DOP. Editor.

Maya is an Australian filmmaker with a focus on social impact documentary. In My Blood It Runs was selected for Good Pitch Australia 2016, the Sundance Documentary Fund and Sundance Skywalker Music and Sound Design Labs and is due for release in 2019. She has directed award-winning short documentaries, Two (AFI Docs, Slamdance, Winner AIDC emerging talent) and Growing Up Gayby (ABC TV) and her feature documentary Gayby Baby(2015). Gayby Baby was selected for GoodPitch² Australia 2014, premiered at Hot Docs, screened at London BFI, Doc Leipzig, Doc NYC, is on Netflix US and reached No. 1 on iTunes doc charts during it’s UK release. In Australia, the film famously caused a national stir when it was banned by the Australian State Government and is acknowledged as significant in the fight for Marriage Equality and Adoption Equality in Australia.

Felicity Hayes

Executive Producer / Senior Traditional Owner of Mparntwe (Alice Springs)

Felicity Hayes is an Arrernte Elder, educator and the recognised Traditional Owner of Mparntwe/Alice Springs. Felicity has campaigned for decades for social justice for her people, the right to live on her country and the right for Arrernte families to teach their children. Felicity has been instrumental working within the formal education system, sharing and teaching Arrernte language and culture. Felicity is one of the grandmothers who form the backbone of Children’s Ground in central Australia, providing leadership and direction on the learning, wellbeing and development of children at her home, Irrkerlantye (Whitegate Town Camp).

More about the team of First Nations and non-Indigenous producers/staff at:


Follow on Twitter:

out this month

Keeping it Fresh – 2019 See our Regular Updates on Facebook and meet ups with the AASRN


Image: Lion Dancers by Matt Huynh, Illustrator, NYC

HELLO WORLD!!!!!!!!! (cue Saddle Club sountrack)…

Did you know since 2017 we began to move a lot of our conversations and content posts over to Social Media including our AAFFN Community FB Page (lots of exciting news from the AusAsian scene – updated weekly) and for public/members who want to circulate their own news of events, auditions, crew recruitment and so on join our AAFFN FB Group. We still also share the occasional cheeky tweet on Twitter at @aaffn  

For events we encourage creatives to connect through our friends events at the Asian Australian Studies and Research Network (AASRN). They throw regular casual meet ups across various cities (e.g. Sydney, Melbourne and soon Brisbane and Perth) plus more formal events.


The AASRN are having their next Asian Australian Identities 7 Conference in November 2019 – see program here. The program from the 2017 AAI6 Conference with Paper abstracts by two of AAFFN’s Co-Conveners, Dr Sukhmani Khorana and Dr Indigo Willing OAM can be found here.

Hope we see you there or on the ‘gram, FB and Twitter!

Cheers from the AAFFN Co-Conveners

AAI 7 conference

Asian Australian filmmakers story SBS

Story on SBS about Asian Australian filmmakers pushing for more representation.

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Welcome Street Smart to TV

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.

street smart cast

Crazy Rich Asians film hits Australia

What are your thoughts? ABC PM show interviews some of those who celebrates & those who have critiques. Join us on Twitter @aaffn or our FB page posts to see more posts & news,-others-criticise-depiction-of-asians-in-new-film/10179932

Where are we in 2018?

Dr Tseen Khoo talking at the AAI6 Conference in Nov 2017.

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!:

Facebook –

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

Australian Gritty Hyper Realism & AA Masculinity – Interview with Matthew Victor Pastor 2017

Matthew Victor Pastor

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.

Justin Wang - Prayer

Justin Wang – Prayer

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.

On set with Kev and Vessy.


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


Michelle Law’s Single Asian Female Play on Now & The Family Law gets go ahead for second season

Screen Shot 2018-08-31 at 12.23.46 pmThe 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