Cinemas of value: Multicultural realism in Asian Australian cinema

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This article examines the use of realist aesthetics in three Australian films, Dee McLachlan’s The Jammed (2007), Khoa Do’s The Finished People (2003) and M. Frank’s Ra Choi (2005) as a way of creating ‘value’ within the terms of an Australian national cinema. These films, among other examples of an emergent ‘Asian Australian cinema’, deploy techniques of realism to build an authenticity of experience for spectators, unfamiliar with seeing portrayals of Asian Australians on screen. This article will consider what is at stake in the accepted, and often replicated, relationship between multiculturalism and realism characterizing filmic representations of Asian Australians, and will shift the focus to explore the place of idealism in the creation of value. By examining the aesthetics of what I will call ‘multicultural realism’ I aim to consider how these stylistic strategies seek to politicize certain representations over others in the films’ attempt to build an alternative vision of the Australian nation and its diasporic constituents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-156
Number of pages16
JournalStudies in Australasian Cinema
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Asian Australian
  • Australian national
  • Cinema
  • Ethics
  • Multicultural realism
  • Values

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