Western Sydney Filmmakers Explode Cultural Stereotypes
9 June 2017: Four filmmakers from Western Sydney will take on the subject of cultural diversity and inclusion in the Australian creative sector, warts and all as part of Diversity Arts Australia’s Diverse Screens project.
Maria Tran, Ali Mousawi, Rozie Vuong and Thuy Nguyen were awarded the grants as part of the Diverse Screens project presented by Diversity Arts Australia (DARTS), Liverpool City Council and Fairfield City Council.
Maximum Choppage and Tracer star Maria Tran is an actor, director and martial-arts specialist, credited with playing a lead role in the creative development of the Australian Vietnamese film movement. Tran’s mockumentary The Subtractor beings when a Hollywood superhero movie arrives in Western Sydney, but questions are soon raised about assumptions of the movie-makers. ‘Things become questionable as the director, Ridley Whyte execute decisions that leave the lead actor ever more confused about his identity,’ says Tran. ‘In the meantime, a local activist is protesting on the production’s cultural appropriation practices.
Tran’s work is action packed, but also explores identity and belonging and her experiences growing up in Australia. “My parents tried so hard to assimilate,” she recently told the Sydney Morning Herald, “They decided to open a fish-and-chip store, because they thought that was as Australian as you could get. They tried to get rid of their accents, which they never did.”
Ali Mousawi, an award-winning journalist and filmmaker, unflinchingly tackles tough themes such as censorship, persecution and Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers. His documentary film Beyond Christmas Island takes us straight into the lives and challenges faced by artists making a life in Australia. “My film will tell the story of artists who have sought asylum in the Australia. It will focus on the artist’s practice, shot in an observational style, and will be narrated by the artist him/herself.”
Roxie Vuong’s documentary Act Now explores the way actors from diverse backgrounds are excluded or stereotyped in the arts sector with an interesting take on an audition monologue. ‘The women I interviewed were all very strong and inspiring in the ways they’ve overcome personal struggles and been able to express it in fun or even entertaining ways onstage or in their stories,’ says Vuong. ‘They’ve challenged the status quo by telling stories not often seen or heard in our cultural landscape.’
Fairfield filmmaker Thuy Nguyen is a fashion film creative and she takes us straight into the world of fashion and design in her documentary Against the Grain. ‘Our community has so much talent and skills to offer in terms of the creative industry,’ she says. ‘Film and theatre has always been at the forefront of it, through this project I really want every to see what amazing fashion designers we have in the area and I can’t wait for everyone to see their stories on screen.’
The films will be presented at a free screening to the arts sector and the local community at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre on Thursday 29 June, 12-1pm.
The organisation managing this project, Casula-based Diversity Arts Australia advocates for an arts sector that reflects the true social and cultural diversity of Australia. ‘Artists, and in this case filmmakers, are the best placed to articulate their issues and concerns, and to advocate for change through the work they create. We hope that these films will provide a moment for people to reflect, learn and think about how we can represent greater cultural and geographic diversity on screen,’ said DARTS Executive Director Lena Nahlous
‘We also anticipate that the films will be screened on the large screens throughout the Liverpool area, in Fairfield and across Sydney and interstate. This is also about us facilitating dialogue and ideas, profiling artists like Ali to broader audiences and showcasing Liverpool as a place where fantastic and thought-provoking films are made.’
This project has also been supported by DARTS’ core funding body Australia for the Arts
Films are screening for for free at noon Thursday 29 June at Casula Powerhouse – for details see diversityarts.org.au/event/diverse-screens.
For more information, please contact DARTS on +61 2 9734 9300.