On Sunday 30 October 2022, writer/director Tony Ayres, spoke at the Chinese Museum about his artistic journey.


Image captions: Tony Ayres presenting to an audience at the Artist's Insight's talk.

“Comedies make people laugh, horror films make people scared, thrillers make people thrilled. My thing is making people sad”. Indeed, The Home Song Stories (2007), Ayres' seventh film based on his own traumatic childhood follows the story of Rose (Joan Chen), a single mother struggling to survive in Australia with her two children.

Ayres showed the audience The Home Song Stories trailer.

The film won 23 awards internationally, including two Golden Horse awards, which Tony describes as being like the "Asian Oscars”. In the annals of Australian filmmaking, however, it remains a marginal work.

Growing up, Tony Ayres remembers grappling with being Asian and gay, an ongoing theme in his directorial work.. Despite being a niche topic at the time of his burgeoning filmmaking career he says "I kept floating to the surface and staying in the picture because I kept winning awards for my work!"

About his first mainstream success, The Slap (2011), Tony Ayres said “It is that thrilling moment when your work is well-received by critics and audiences alike”.

Despite his tragic upbringing, Ayres says that he grew up 'relatively normal' thanks to those on whom he could rely at the low points in his life. Specifically, Tony thanked Michael, his partner, who was present in the audience, naming him as a great source of support. Meeting in their university years, Michael would later go one to become the executive producer of The Home Song Stories.

Tony Ayres also gave advice to aspiring filmmakers, saying there are three parts to eliciting the audience's emotion: talent, vision and craft. Ayres also suggested for young filmmakers to focus on story and telling stories in ways that will engage and inspire audiences.

When asked about what kind of stories Tony has a passion for telling, he said he prefers telling Chinese Australian stories. He says representation is important in film, with Chinese Australians being the most underrepresented group on our screens. Tony aims to change that. Unfortunately, with becoming more and more recognised, he has less and less opportunity to do this. 

The Chinese Museum thanks everyone for coming to this installation of Artist’s Insights. To tie off the series for the year, author Alice Pung and illustrator Sher Rill Ng will both talk about their craft and Chinese Australian identity. We look forward to seeing you on Sunday November 27th 2-3pm, and don’t forget to register to attend!

Image captions: Tony Ayres presenting, with Chinese Museum's CEO Mark Wang observing.

Image captions: Tony Ayres presenting at the Artist's Insight's talk.