Hong Kong born, Melbourne based filmmaker Clara Law is an Asian Australian pioneer telling authentic stories about what its like being an Asian in Australia. Her film Floating Life (1996) talks about the Asian migrant experience, and made history as Australia’s first-ever submission in the best foreign language film category at the Academy Awards. However, in this day and age, we would question why a film about life in Australia was an entrant as best foreign language film – but let’s credit it for doing so well back in the 1990s.
Also, don’t forget, 1996 was a time where anti-Asian hate reignited with Pauline Hanson getting into the Senate and using her Parliamentary maiden speech to encourage hate by saying Australia is being swamped by Asians… – so what a timely film to be released at that time.
Back in March this year, I wrote a piece for HuffPost Australia listing Asian Australian films which are must watches – Floating Life is in this list.
Anyways, Floating Life has been digitally restored by the National Film and Sound Archive and will be presented on the big screen at the 2021 Sydney film festival alongside Law’s latest feature film, Drifting Petals, a free-wandering elegy to the loss of her brother and the fading memories of her two home cities of Macau and Hong Kong.
Here are some things Law spoke about to the Guardian Australia, about her career, love for films and filmmaking as well as returning to Australia:
“I love hearing people talk about my film and saying, ‘I’m still thinking of the film’,” Law says.
“That’s what we [with her husband and constant collaborator, co-writer, Eddie Fong] want to do: make films that can stand the passage of time and can touch people’s hearts hundreds of years later.”
“That’s what I felt too when I first came to Australia,” Law says.
“It was all very strange to me but also very seductive – I wanted to recreate the feeling of this space, light and colour. With this distinctiveness, you feel the family spread all over, and not together. So, how and where can they find their home?”
“Floating Life has helped spur [Asian-Australians] into their film-making careers, like [director] Corrie Chen, and I am glad to hear that has happened. It is like a relay, there is no ego there.”
Definitely an inspiring filmmaker, which I will reach out to for an interview!~ Her next film project is The Little Qipao Shop which is basically about a 28 year old ABC (Aussie born Chinese) female navigating herself and her identity between 2 cultures – very interesting indeed!
Images via YouTube and IMDB