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Oscar 2023 Winners: Why Everything At Once Matters In Australia

Everything Everywhere All At Once got a cleanup at the 95th Academy Awards, bringing a new chapter of on-screen Asian representation.
The movie, which explores the meaning of life through a series of bizarre multiverses, won seven Oscars on Monday, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Best Supporting Actor (Ke Huy Quan) and Best Supporting Actress (Jamie Lee Curtis).
Malaysian-born Yeo, 60, is the first Asian woman to win Best Actress for her role as Chinese immigrant and laundromat manager Evelyn Wang, and the second person of color after Halle Berry in 2002. She became a seed woman.

For Australian-based independent filmmaker Joy Hopwood, the moment meant the world.

Hopwood still vividly remembers his first experience of racism after arriving in Perth from Singapore in the 70s.
“On my first day of school, I wanted to feel like I belonged,” Joy told SBS News.
She said her hopes were quickly dashed by an incident on the basketball court.
“I ran and threw the ball back. [other] The players said, ‘Get your hands off our ball, you ugly Japs.’ And I said, ‘I’m not Japanese.'”

The experience “traumatized” her and she stayed home for the next two weeks.

Joy Hopwood (above left) moved to Australia from Singapore when she was a child. sauce: attached / Joy Hopwood

More than 30 years later, Everything Everywhere All at Once depicts a Chinese-American family, but its success has made it a much broader global phenomenon for anyone who identifies as Asian. It is a sign that things are changing.

“I’m so proud…it’s helped us all stand up for each other and our community,” she said.

“I think the more we see Asians appearing on television, in movies, and in theater, the more people feel that Asians are part of the community.”

woman looking at camera

Joy Hopwood is currently working as an independent filmmaker in Sydney. sauce: attached / Joy Hopwood

Hopwood said she wasn’t sure how her first film, The Script of Life (2019), would be received because Asian actors made up about half of the cast, but Amsterdam International Film After winning the Best Romance award at the festival, she continued. She creates her one of her first Asian-Australian rom-coms, Rhapsody of Love (2021).

“Growing up, there were very few movies that I felt I could relate to,” she said.

“Before, only Jackie Chan films were shown…and I met journalist Alison Huang in Perth. She was the only Asian face I ever saw on screen. “

challenges remain

Despite the success of Everything Everywhere All At Once and her own achievements, Hopwood said she still has a long way to go.
“Michelle Yeoh… it took her decades to get here. I feel her success should have come much sooner.”

“It took decades for this change to happen. Politics, culture, even the arts need representation for change to happen.”

Australian writer and broadcaster Benjamin Lo, who was born to parents from Hong Kong and Malaysia, said the film’s award season success means a lot to Australians in Asia.

man smiling at the camera

Benjamin Law is an Australian writer and broadcaster. sauce: attached / Daniel Francisco Robles

“I think Everything Everywhere All At Once represents a new milestone…an Asian diaspora film that hits the Oscars,” he said.

Law also pointed out his path to Best Supporting Actor success.

“If you think about Ke Huy Quan’s story…his whole story is one that Asians have erased from Hollywood,” he said.

Quan, 51, was born in what was then called Saigon, Vietnam and immigrated to the United States as a child refugee.
“He started out as a child actor in Indiana Jones and The Goonies, but he never got an acting job and is still here as a middle-aged man.
“The only reason he thought it might be possible was because he saw [2018 film] In Crazy Rich Asians starring Michelle Yeoh, I said to his agent, ‘Why don’t you try acting again?'” Law said.
Dr. Jay Sung, Associate Professor of Korean Studies at the University of Melbourne, said Yeo’s Oscar win was a huge achievement.
“Asian women face a double barrier. We have to fight sexism that is deeply ingrained in Australian culture, but the other layer is racism. We need to break the glass ceiling. , then the bamboo ceiling awaits you.”
According to Dr. Song, mainstream portrayals of Asian characters have been “misrepresented” and “mischaracterized” in the past, but that’s changing.
“Korean pop culture is often portrayed as very childish for teenage girls, creating a sort of ‘second-rate’ music industry. ”

“It’s not just K-pop, we’re starting to see K-movies and K-dramas and how they’re winning Oscars. I am watching.”

Dr Song said that while the image of Asian culture and people is changing, “we don’t really hear much about the success stories that Australians in Asia are creating for Australian society.”
“If you look at the latest census, the share of Asian Australians is increasing.

According to 2021 Census data, the top five countries born in Australia are, in descending order, the United Kingdom, India, China, New Zealand and the Philippines.

female head shot

Jay Song is an Associate Professor of Korean Studies at the University of Melbourne. sauce: attached / jay song

“They also contribute significantly to Australia’s economy and society, but are often portrayed as victims, helpless victims and highly vulnerable people in the media.”

Dr. Song says it’s important to portray Asian characters “as individuals who are able to perform autonomously and excel in all areas of society.”

“Although the main agenda for Asian Australians is often too focused on racism and anti-racism campaigns, we can actually overcome such ‘bamboo ceilings’ and become socially active. There are many Asian Australians who are part of the ”

Likewise, Hopwood, who said he was inspired by the success of Crazy Rich Asians (2018), says funding remains a challenge.
Grainne Brunsdon, Head of Content at Screen Australia, said: “We know this is a global issue and we have a long way to go in improving film diversity.”
“We are committed to supporting authentic storytelling from and about, and featuring, underrepresented groups of people…Australian stories have a national and international audience has the power to resonate with, and we would love to see more representation of our diverse community.”
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https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/i-was-called-an-ugly-jap-why-this-oscars-moment-matters-in-australia/j3nyxycio Oscar 2023 Winners: Why Everything At Once Matters In Australia

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