Come join us this Chinese Lunar New Year for Screen Presence 23. We welcome everyone to share the laughs, learnings, and heartaches of what it means to be Chinese Australian in complex times.

Special guests and leading members of the Australian film industry join filmmaker and host Rosie Lourde in a day featuring screenings, conversations and meditations on their experience, cultures and identity, the hurdles still being faced, and the discoveries being made as the Chinese Australian identity continues to evolve.

Venue: The Capitol, RMIT University
Date: Sunday 29th January 2023
Tickets: $19 Single Session, $81.80 Festival Pass

(use promo code CHINESEMUSEUM for $2.00 discount = $15 + $2.02 booking fee)

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Full program



While great strides have been made showcasing Asian voices through main-stage theatre, award-winning TV and viral online content, films about the Chinese Australian experiences are few and far between. If art is supposed to be a mirror of society, where are these stories? What more can be done to help Asian Australian filmmakers tell authentic stories that can help bridge cultural boundaries?

Cross-platform, multi-hyphenate filmmaker, Rosie Lourde - our MC for the day, will chair the discussion with:

• Film and TV critic, and NSW Chair, Media Diversity Australia, Wenlei Ma

• Stop Everything! ABC radio host and screenwriter Benjamin Law

• Melbourne Cinematheque co-curator, School of Media & Communication, RMIT, Associate Professor Adrian Danks

• Multi award-winning screenwriter, director (Wentworth, New Gold Mountain) Corrie Chen

Image: Anna May Wong and Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express (1932)



Shanghai Express (1932) 82 mins

Ninety years ago, this Oscar-winning film directed by Josef von Sternberg premiered at The Capitol. Although set in China, few Chinese appear in the film. It stars Marlene Dietrich supported by Clive Brook, Anna May Wong, Warner Oland; most remembered for playing several Chinese and Chinese American characters: Dr Fu Manchu, Henry Chang in this film, and most notably Charlie Chan.

Considered the first Chinese American star in Hollywood, Wong was frustrated by the supporting roles she reluctantly played - ‘why is it that the screen Chinese is nearly always the villain of the piece, and so cruel a villain - murderous, treacherous, a snake in the grass. We are not like that.’

After the screening, writer and broadcaster Benjamin Law chats about the film with Fiona Choi, creator, writer, and lead of Dragon Lady: The Many Lives and Deaths of Anna May Wong for an insight into leading ladies and representation, then and now.

Image: Floating Life (2006)



Floating Life (1996) 95mins

“Floating Life represents some kind of turning point in Australian cinema in that it establishes a signpost towards a still nascent movement in this country, which is the creation of an Asian-Australian cinema” – Stephen Teo, Senses of Cinema.

Moving East to West has turned their lives… upside down. Floating Life is a poignant and funny film about a Chinese family that falls apart after moving from Hong Kong to Australia. Gradually they find a way of coming together again.

Join writer, director Clara Law and co-writer Eddie Fong for a Q&A after the screening as they engage with the audience about the film and the experiences of the Asian diaspora.



Mao’s Last Dancer (2009) 117mins

“A beautiful translation of life and story to the big screen, director Bruce Beresford and screen-writer, Jan Sardi combines the amazing true story of noble ballerino Li Cunxin with exquisitely breathtaking performances of some of the world’s most famous ballets – Dante’s Inferno, Swan Lake and even Chinese ballets that were performed for Mrs Mao. Aiming for the heart and hitting it every time, Mao’s Last Dancer is not only breathtaking, but meticulously enchanting.” – Behind the Lens.

Image: Mao’s Last Dancer (2007)

Mao’s Last Dancer is a memoir written by Li Cunxin and first published in 2003. The book recounts his journey from a young, impoverished village boy destined to labour in the fields of China to a world-famous professional dancer.

After the screening, join author of Mao’s Last Dancer and artistic director of Queensland Ballet, Li Cunxin AO and one of Australia’s preeminent writers, Jan Sardi AO to talk about their collaboration from book to screen.



with Sponsors, Special Guests, Producers, Writers, Directors, Cast and Crew.

Image: Home Song Stories (2007)



The Home Song Stories (2007) 103mins

Written and directed by Tony Ayres, SBS Movies described this film as ‘beautifully shot and artfully designed, The Home Song Stories features strong performances and the kind of intimacy and honesty that you can only get from an autobiographical film.’

Tony Ayres is one of Australia’s most prolific and award-winning showrunners, writers and directors. One of the founding members of Matchbox Pictures with lawyer and screen content producer Michael McMahon, now owned by NBCU. In 2018 Tony established Tony Ayres Productions (TAP), to develop and produce feature films and television for global audiences and international marketplaces.

Join Tony for a Q&A with the film’s producer, and director and executive producer of Big and Little Films, Michael McMahon after the screening and discover how they are actively championing underrepresented, diverse emerging filmmakers.

followed by

NEXT GEN Filmmakers Award 2023

Tony Ayres and Mark Wang, CEO, Chinese Museum will introduce some of our emerging filmmakers and present the Next Gen Filmmaker Award 2023 to the recipient filmmaker, followed by a screening of their winning short film.

The inaugural Screen Presence is curated by Chinese Australian producer, writer, director Lisa Wang whose credits include The Family Law, Please Like Me and the Berlinale selected documentary Monsieur Mayonnaise.

Screen Presence 23 presented by:


Screen Presence 23 is proudly sponsored by:


Part of the Chinese Lunar New Year Festival program, sponsored by:

Booking for this event has now closed.