Exploring Asian Australian Identity

Jason Chan’s film I Am Home, made with collaborator Andrew Keegan, was one of the most resonant films submitted in the WHERE THE HEART IS competition, exploring ideas of race, racism, belonging and a sense of homecoming. It was one of 19 playing in a series of openair screenings at Martin Place at the Sydney Film Festival in June and in Perth in October.

It was filmed in the heritage estate of Tiong Bahru, where Jason lives, and which was the inspiration for the CIVIC LIFE film, TIONG BAHRU.

Says Jason:

I made I Am Home to explore some of the reasons why I was drawn back to Asia after having grown up in Australia. I wanted to explore how I dealt with racism in Australia – how it changed me and how I finally found a sense of pride in my heritage.

The film was shot on a compact digital stills camera. About 500 stills made up the main part of the film. Put together it is basically an animated effect giving a sense of motion and stillness at the same time. The final part of the film was shot on a Canon HV30 video camera. All simple gear. The stills took the longest time – about an afternoon in total. Very tedious as any animator would understand. But we really liked the final effect.

I feel the film has captured something that a lot of immigrants deal with – the separation from their roots – the longing to belong – and the search for what they truly feel is “home”. I think it is truthful, a little brutal but also hopeful.

Jason Chan was born in Malaysia but grew up in Australia, where he graduated from NIDA’s acting program in 2001. Since then he’s been working in film, tv and theatre between Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. He has directed three plays and has recently founded a production company in Singapore: BananaMana, focussing on producing creative content for web, tv and film. He is also writing a feature script, with the support of the British Council’s The First Draft programme. He now lives in Singapore.

If you are resident in Australia, you can catch screenings of TIONG BAHRU, the inspiration for the WHERE THE HEART IS competition, as part of the Travelling Sydney Film Festival (details, here). If you are in Singapore, contact your local branch of the NLB to ask about borrowing the DVD.

Check out more films from the competition at the WHERE THE HEART IS vimeo channel, here.

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