AAFF programmes - Nov 2011 (Photo courtesy of the AAFFN & Indigo Willing: http://asianaustralianfilmforum.wordpress.com)

The inaugural AAFF event in Melbourne on 12-13 November was pretty damn amazing. No two ways about it.

The incredible energy that was brought to, and generated by, the gig has rolled on to create the AAFFN (Asian Australian Film Forum Network). The AAFFN has its own Twitter account (@AAFFN) and Facebook page (here).

Just recently, the “Shout Outs” video from AAFF, which was created and edited by Maria Tran, was uploaded by Indigo Willing to the AAFFN’s Vimeo account. AAFF 2011 SHOUT OUTS: http://vimeo.com/user9269188/aaffnvideo2011

When I watched the Shout Outs vid at AAFF, and coming off the high that was AAI 4 (where I saw so much intellectual and political creativity – hopefully another post on that will come later; I’m feeling like I need to digest what went on around that event, mostly in a good way), I found myself teary and incredibly inspired. The vibrancy of the talent on the AA screen scene is very exciting. The key realisation I had wasn’t: “Oh, how great it is that another generation is taking the reins of cultural production and forging its own path”. I did think that, but – more importantly – I felt that these kinds of challenges can be taken up by anyone with the drive and skill, across a huge range of cultural arenas. It inspired me to want to be one of those people in a cultural arena, rather than the academic one that I’d been in for a loooo-ong time (*cue sound of plans hatching*).

Having Annette Shun Wah as the special AAFF guest was an inspired choice. Annette has been a staunch and savvy supporter of AA activities for years. Seeing her at AAFF, in her element when championing the diversification and promotion of AA talent/achievements, was very fitting. The last time I’d seen Annette was the inaugural Dragon Tails conference in Ballarat (at Sovereign Hill in 2009), which I’d convened with Keir Reeves. The second Dragon Tails was held at the same time as AAI 4 and AAFF, at the Chinese Museum in Melbourne’s Chinatown: Dragon Tails 2011. It was convened by Kate Bagnall and Sophie Couchman. One of my standing regrets for 2011 is that I was unable to attend DT 2011; the programme looked fabulous. Some of the DT 2011 attendees were folk I’d ‘met’ on Twitter, and it would’ve been nice to put faces to names.

While I found all the films on that first day to be fascinating, stylish and often very witty, the one that resonated with me the most was Corrie Chen’s Wonder Boy. The film was beautifully done, considered and well-paced. The subtlety of the narrative and humour was a delight, and it all lent power to the broader context of the family’s  layered differences in Australian society. The character of the boy was poignantly realised, and I particularly liked the way that the bullies sub-thread didn’t have a typical culmination.

Corrie was jetting off to Munich directly after the AAFF gig, so double-thanks to her for the time and generosity in sharing her thoughts with us. It was a real highlight for me.

In conversation - Amadeo Marquez-Perez and Corrie Chen (Image courtesy of AAFFN; photo taken by Mayu Kanamori)

I was only able to make it to the first fantastic day of AAFF. I met so many new people, re-met colleagues and network members, and generally soaked up the buzz. It was humbling and so interesting to meet people who had been in the industry for a long time, and to hear their about their experiences. Similarly, it was incredible to meet folk who had been around for a very intensive time in the field and hear about what they’ve achieved and how. Lessons in determination and creativity!

Props to the AAFF convenors, Indigo Willing and Amadeo Marquez-Perez, for pulling together such a diverse and dynamic event. Many thanks also to their fab crew: Jacqueline Erasmus, Carlos Marquez-Perez, Matt Pastor, and Mumma Marquez-Perez.

The wonderful work that was screened on Day 1:

  • RED WATER RED directed by Qing Xie
  • FORGET ME NOT directed by Emily Dean
  • BABY CAKE directed by Pearl Tan
  • NO DIRECTION KNOWN by Plum Jungle ft. Michael ‘Tokyo Love In’ Chin, Pete Longworth and dir. Christopher Baron
  • AAFF SHOUT OUTS video created and edited by Maria Tran, with contributions by Andy Trieu, Ralph Lim, Joy Hopwood, Sky Crompton, Maria Tran, Somchay Phakonkham, Thai Phuong, Steve Nguyen, Renee Lim, Chris Pang, Kathy Nguyen, Shaun Chang, Quan Tran, Pearl Tan, Heng Tang, Jack Ngu, Tamara Guo, Hai Ha Le, Dominic Golding, Jiao Chen, Jen Thym, Indigo Willing.
  • CITIZEN JIA LI directed by Sky Crompton