OzAsia On Screen | Fringe Benefits

Come September, Adelaide will once again be swept up in the festive vibe, as the Adelaide Festival Centre’s annual OzAsia festival prepares to take us across the sea to the Orient.

Among the plethora of exciting events set to kick off on September 15 is OzAsia On Screen: a robust blend of cinematic titbits all the way from Iran to our own backyard.

Presented by the Adelaide Festival Centre and the Media Resource Centre, OzAsia OnScreen kicks off with Dev Benegal’s off-beat cinematic journey, Road, Movie. This offering begs the question: what happens when a restless young man, desperate to escape his father’s failing hair oil business, decides to drive his Uncle’s antique Chevy across the desert to its new home in a seaside museum.

Indeed, not a lot does happen for the first half of Road, Movie, despite a young runaway, rotund mechanic and mysterious gypsy woman joining the obnoxious Vishnu on his quest. However, just when it seems nothing interesting will ever happen, a pit stop on a salt lakes brings a travelling fair, complete with stilt walkers, midgets dressed as clowns, and the perfect place for the ragtag bunch to show off the old Chevy’s alter-ego as a travelling cinema. For all the confusion it imparts, it is amusing, entertaining, and upon conclusion, almost heart-warming.

A dilapidated old truck trekking across India not really your cup of tea? Lucky for you, Matthew Kesting has curated a program to suit everyone’s cinematic tastes. There’s the hilarious tale of a homosexual Korean boy who, in order to follow the footsteps of his idol, Madonna, decides to enter a sumo wrestling competition to raise funds for his sex change (Lee Hae-joon and Lee Hae-young’s Like a Virgin).

Indonesia’s Riri Riza brings us The Rainbow Troops/Laskar Pelangi, the most viewed film in Indonesia, and its sequel The Dreamer/Sang Pemimpi. Based on the popular novels by Andrea Hirata, both are quaint coming-of-age tales set to warm the cockles of your heart.

Prefer more serious cinematic fare? Two-times Oscar nominee and AFI-winner David Bradbury has combined his documentary talents with freelance photographer David Blenkinsop to produce My Asian Heart, sharing the extreme lengths Blenkinsop and other photojournalists go to in the fight to expose the human rights abuses and forgotten wars of South East Asia.

Taking us back to 1937, Lu Chuan’s black and white epic City of Life and Death chronicles the stories of several figures, both historical and fictional, during the Imperial Japanese army’s invasion of China’s then-capital, Nanking. Known as the Nanking Massacre or the Rape of Nanking (due to the overwhelming number of women and girls who were assaulted by invading forces), this period of several weeks saw tens of thousands of Chinese soldiers and civilians killed.

Back in our own backyard, 2005’s Young Australian of the Year, Khoa Do presents Mother Fish, a deeply moving story of humour, passion and hope. Thanks to Tony Abbott and the recent election, the issues of Australia’s refugee policy and the increasing number of asylum seekers is more fresh in people’s psyches than ever before. But have we forgotten about the plight of those on board the boats? What is it really like fleeing everything you have ever known for the confines of a leaky riverboat in the middle of an ocean? Mother Fish seeks to answer these questions, telling the tale of two sisters and their unforgettable journey as they flee Vietnam in hopes of a better life. Based on the real-life stories of over 1.5 million refugees who fled post-war Vietnam, Mother Fish will re-shape your views on illegal immigration and the “boat people”.

The OzAsia On Screen program also features a collection of short films (Sweet & Short); a retrospective of acclaimed director Clara Law’s works (Hong Kong on screen); and four of Korea’s best cinematic offerings, including the aforementioned comedy Like a Version, the captivating Secret Sunshine, the entertaining Barking Dogs Never Bite, and the “best Korean horror film of 2007”, Epitaph.

To view the full program, visit ozasiafestival.com.au/films

Published August, 2010.