>Asia Week, Melbourne screening of Maximum Choppage: Round 2, and the AA meetup

>On Thursday 23 October, I took some time out of my little work crises to attend as many Asia Week events as I could that day. It started off with a session featuring Mayu Kanamori and Wakako Asano, talking about their multimedia performance show, ‘In Repose’. We were treated to Mayu’s overview of the project and how it came together, clips of video and soundscapes, and Wakako also danced during the session. This project is very interesting to me because it involves a Japanese Australian inscription onto the landscape (as most of the cemeteries the project has been associated with are regional/isolated spaces). Particularly intriguing was the association of the project with particular communities, and the site-specific nuances of this process. The ‘communities’ in question include Japanese Australians, Indigenous Australians, local townspeople, schoolchildren, etc. It’s an initiative that appears to embrace as broad an audience as possible.

After Mayu and Wakako’s session, I disappeared for a short while to catch up with Peta Stephenson (who was also at ‘In Repose’), and we made it back in time for Sacred Street Art, which was excellent. For those of you too lazy to click on the link, this is who gave the presentation during the session (which also included the screening of a short film):

Mohammed Ali (aka Aerosol Arabic) is a UK based street artist. His style fuses graffiti with Islamic scripts with the aim of bringing diverse communities together. Mohammed has created his spiritual murals and exhibited across the globe. He is in Melbourne to create a lane way mural in collaboration with arts collective Crooked Rib as part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival. Mohammed will be screening a short film documenting one of his spiritual street murals in the Bronx as well as giving a presentation on the history of graffiti and Islamic art.

Ali was extremely engaging and wry. I found his work and its aims impressive, and his negotiation of the sticky, kneejerk politics informing the dismissal of contemporary Muslim identities was inspiring. I’m not usually one to be inspired (putting aside the fact that I’m posting twice in one week about being inspired…ahem), but Ali’s strong and compassionate attitude rubbed off. He spent much of his time in Melbourne collaborating with various institutions and community groups to create streetart-work.

After this fab talk and short film, I also stayed for The Power of Pop, a session with Carolyn Stevens, Audrey Yue, and an episode of Rurouni Kenshin. I’m not a huge anime watcher so it was interesting to see a whole ep through. Really interesting to hear how these and other Japanese pop.cultural genres have been marketed globally, selling the notion of Japanese cool to the high-consuming generations.

The last event of the day and the close of Asia Week was the screening of Maximum Choppage: Round 2, and a Q&A featuring Rumble Pictures’ Maria Tran (producer/actor) and Timothy Ly (director/writer/actor). I met up with Maria, Audrey and Carolyn after that anime session, and Dom Golding outside the theatre. About 100 people turned up for the screening, which was preceded by the launch of two journals focused on Asian Australian cinema (edited by Audrey Yue, Olivia Khoo, and Belinda Smaill). Everyone seemed to enjoy the film and the theatre filled with laughs at all the right times. I had invited my sis and her partner, and they thought it was a hoot. I enjoyed it even more the second time around, and noticed things that had slipped past me during the first viewing (in Sydney). Maria said that Tim had worked on the sound since the initial screening I’d been to and it must have been streets better because it didn’t become a thing I noticed! It really is a clever, innovative flick. I hope it gets much more exposure.

And if you’re keen on more Rumble Pictures work, post-Maximum Choppage: Round 2, check out the first two episodes now at Downtown Rumble (6-part microseries commissioned by Triple J TV). Each segment is only a few minutes long, but – of course – they’re action-packed!

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The AA meetup later that night was at the University Cafe on Lygon Street. We had to apologise profusely to the poor folks who were waiting there until us stragglers turned up. The Q&A went on for a while (all v. interesting and I’m glad Tim talked more during this screening), then Maria had to conduct her networky magic with the audience that was loitering near the stage (hoping to talk to her). At the Uni Cafe, we ended up with a table of about 17, I think. The folks I knew included Scott Brook, Dom, Jess Walton, my sis and her partner; I also met Nghi Huynh, who was involved with the film, Once Were the Dragon (Proud Entertainment). Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet the folks down the other end of the table. It was a long day, and a nice way to finish up the evening. The service at the Uni Cafe couldn’t have been more surly or perfunctory, but the food was serviceable and the company good. I would’ve thought an establishment near a university (and calling itself what it does) would be more flexible about big tables and drifting student groups but…no.

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