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FLOATING LIFE

Australia, 1996 (MIFF 1996, Fiction)

Director: Clara Law

Culture clash and the effect of centuries of displacement are the themes at the heart of Clara Law and Eddie Fong's tenderly handled and often very funny saga of a Hong Kong Chinese family relocating to Australia in the 90s, on the eve of Hong Kong's handover in 1997.

The Chan family arrives from HK plum in the middle of the neutral tones and brick veneer facades of suburban Australia. Not surprisingly they soon decide that we are indeed a weird mob Floating Life is the first Australian film by Clara Law and her screenwriter husband Eddie Fong(Autum Moon, MIFF 93) who moved to Melbourne with their extended family five years ago. It's also the first feature to depict the contemporary Chinese experience in Australia Law and Fong deftly shift the focus and point of view from city to city, house to house, character to character. In a particularly effective scene that nimbly illustrates the breadth of the contemporary Chinese diaspora, the film introduces first sister Yen (TV host Annette Shun-Wah in an impressive film debut living in foggy Germany, while recalling the migration of her own parents from Shanghai in 1949. Later we meet yuppie first brother Gar Ming back in HK floating in his own rootless world and pondering his future A striking flashback effectively backgrounds the supposedly ruthless and alarmist second sister, Bing, who arrived in Australia seven years prior and has cocooned herself in a security-fortress in the outer suburbs.

One can't help but notice that these are very different Chinese characters to those we have seen on our screens before Floating Life and its authors are a very welcome addition to our cinematic family (TB)

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