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SADNESS

Australia, 1999 (MIFF 1999, Australian Showcase)

Director: Tony Ayres

A brave and moving documentary based on photograph­er William Yang's acclaimed stage show of the same name. Sadness explores the roots of Yang's Chinese-Australian identity, and his grief at the AIDS related deaths of his friends. As an intriguing subplot, the tilm also deals with Yang's investigation of his uncle's mur­der, which occurred in Queensland in the 1920s, and explores the implications this had on the Chinese com­munity at the time, and on the legacy Yang inherited.

The film's evocative visual style combines Yang's own slide-projected photographs with rear-projected imagery and dramatised re-enactments of his family sto­ries in order to maintain the essence ot the stage perfor­mance. In style, Sadness recalls Mark Rappaport's (From the Journals of Jean Seberg [MIFF 1996], The Silver Screen. Colour Me Lavender [MIFF 1998]) equalling striking documentaries. It was shot over three weeks in part in Yang's home town of Dimbulah, far north Queensland.

Sadness is an intimate and revealing portrait of the world which William Yang inhabits. As he explains in the film, "The Chinese believe that the true self, the real 'I' is a spirit which never dies, which is eternal". Sadness is a celebration of that spirit. When the conceptual bridge between the two stories of death is built, this Chinese maxim becomes a spiritual beacon, guiding the film's singular direction.

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