Saturday 13 March 2021

Australian-Chinese Film Festival - For the record - John Snadden and Michael Campi comment on a recent under the radar event in Melbourne


John Snadden

Our ever-inclusive dinosaur media seemed to overlook the Australian-Chinese Film Festival which ran in Melbourne at selected Village cinemas. It was a collection of ten feature films mostly from mainland China, and which haven't seen commercial releases in Oz. I'm unfamiliar with most titles but one definitely stands out, TRACEY (2018, poster above) an award-winning film from Hong Kong and first time director, Jun Li. It's a family drama starring Philip Keung and Kara Hui and was co-produced by Shu Kei. The transgender theme of the film making sure it only received a minimal release in China. Keung's fine performance has been compared to Christopher Plummer's Oscar winning role in Beginners (2010).



Michael Campi

One of the most significant of the films is Pema Tseden's BALLOON which almost certainly would have played in our international film festivals last year if Covid hadn't happened. Perhaps one of many of last year's best Asian films that sales agents and producers would not allow in streaming events. The Tibetan director is on a roll with his last three films. The version screened was the international version in Tibetan with only English subtitles. Sadly it seems almost nobody went to the festival. At Century City one Saturday, audiences at two sessions were between six and maybe eight. Certainly socially distanced in a theatre with a capacity of just under 400. 


TRACEY is a really important new indie Hong Kong film. In fact, there are encouraging reviews to be found for most of the films, unlike many national film events. It's strange the festival seemed unique to Melbourne as far as I could research. A friend went to the Village Crown Cinemas and found the same tiny number in the audience. 

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