In Summary

  • Film written, directed and produced by Swinburne student Rachel Chen recognised at Victorian VMC Film Festival
  • Received an Encouragement award out of over 1,500 short film entries from around Australia
  • VMC Film Festival is presented by the Victorian Multicultural Commission in partnership with Swinburne

A film written, directed and produced by Swinburne student Rachel Chen has been recognised at the Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) Film Festival.

Bachelor of Film and Television (Honours) student Ms Chen’s short drama One, Two centres on Maddy, a shy and introverted first generation migrant who wants to pursue her passion for AFL.

The film received the Encouragement Award, standing out from more than 1,500 short film entries from around Australia.

Ms Chen says she was surprised by the attention her film received and humbled to see so many films created by people with diverse backgrounds.

“It was wholly unexpected, and definitely a wonderful result for myself, my cast and my crew,” she says.

“Coming from a multicultural background, I was humbled to see so many other films created by, arguably minority communities or those coming from a multicultural background being shown together on the big screen.”

Pursuing football and film

A long held personal desire to pursue AFL was the inspiration behind One, Two, says Ms Chen.

“I did take up lots of opportunities during high school to try out and play with the female footy team - but I consistently found myself running away instead of towards other players and of course, the ball,” she says.

“This experience coupled with my beloved Hawks inspired my film immensely, as I wanted to emphasise how AFL footy connected myself and those around me from migrant backgrounds with a sense of community.”

Rachel Chen speaking at VMC film festival.
Swinburne student Rachel Chen was recognised with the VMC’s Encouragement Award.

It was the first time directing a film set for Ms Chen and a first for many of her crew. She believes the recognition will inspire the team going forward.

“I really believe that this award has encouraged all those involved to keep pursuing their passions and involvements within the wonderful film and television industry.

Kaya written, directed and produced by Swinburne alumni Lara Kose and Stephanie Westwood also screened at the festival.

Other winners include:

  • Scopa (People’s Choice Award)
  • A Phone Call to Heaven (Under 25 Award)
  • Memory (Over 25 Award)
  • One of the Good Ones (Judge’s Award) 

Making diversity great again

The VMC Film Festival is presented by the Victorian Multicultural Commission in partnership with Swinburne as an offshoot of Cultural Diversity Week. This year the festival called for films following the theme of ‘making diversity great again’.

“The theme encapsulated positive energy and pride for one's identity and associated achievements, I felt privileged to have been invited, and to have been mingling with such creative and incredible minds,” says Ms Chen.

Speaking to a sold out ACMI theatre at Federation Square on the night of the event, Swinburne’s Dr Glenda Ballantyne, Deputy Chair of Department of Social Sciences, said that all entries in the festival showcased Australia’s unique experience of multiculturalism.

Glenda Ballantyne speaking at VMC film fesival.
Swinburne’s Dr Glenda Ballantyne spoke to the power of multiculturalism at the sold out event.

“Multiculturalism has been a reality in Australia for over 40 years. Diversity is now embedded and homegrown. And this means that the many young people’s experience of multiculturalism today is very different from their parents, especially those who faced the challenges of leaving a homeland to journey to this country,” she said.

Swinburne’s focus on multiculturalism

Dr Ballantyne is working alongside Swinburne Film and Television lecturer Dr Vincent Giarrusso on research to discover what multiculturalism means for a new generation of Australians.

“We’re discovering that many young people today feel strongly connected to their cultural origins but also utterly Australian – and we see this in our students,” she says.

“This combination can be bewildering and challenging, but for them it’s mostly exciting and empowering and positive.”

The research has so far been used to support the work of the VMC, with the aim of reinvigorating multiculturalism in Australia.

Winning films from the VMC Film Festival will be on display every hour throughout the weekend of 15 - 16 June 2019 in the Theatrette at Melbourne’s Immigration Museum.