Director: Tony Ayres
105 minutes

Acclaimed writer and director, Tony Ayres (Walking on Water) presents a highly personal tale of mothers and sons, mothers and daughters, unrequited love, betrayal and hidden secrets that span continents and decades. Rose has risen from a background of poverty to become a glamorous post-war Shanghai nightclub singer, who marries an Australian sailor and emigrates to Australia. She struggles to survive in the world of Chinese restaurants with her two children, until an affair with a charismatic younger man threatens to bring everything undone. Based on stories from the director’s childhood, the film revolves around a strong, complex performance by Joan Chen ( The Last EmperorTwin Peaks). This visually beautiful film works both as an intensely autobiographical introspection in which the film’s narrator attempts to come to terms with the unresolvable ambiguity of his feelings towards his mother, as well as uncovering of the rarely-told history of Chinese-Australians.

Festivals: World Premiere 2007  – Official Selection 2007; Berlin FF 07; Adelaide FF 2007 (in Competition); Sydney FF 2007; The Longest Night Festival, Hobart 2007; Opening Film – Melbourne FF 2007; Toronto FF 2007; Brisbane FF 07; Golden Horse (Taiwan) FF 07; Hawaii FF; International Eurasia FF 07 (Turkey); Edinburgh 2007; Toronto FF 2007; Vancouver FF 2007; Torino FF 07; London Australian FF 08

Awards: 31 national and international nominations or wins

  • NSW Premier’s Literary Prize 2007  – Winner of the Script Writing Award
  • Winner: AWGIE award in the Original Feature Film category (2007)
  • Winner: FIPRESCI Award, Best Asia Pacific Film, Brisbane 07
  • Winner: Best  Original Screenplay – Golden Horse Film Awards (Taiwan)
  • Winner: Best Actress – Golden Horse Film Awards (Taiwan)
  • Winner: Best Director – If Awards 07
  • Winner: Best Direction – AFI Awards
  • Best Lead Actress – AFI Awards
  • Best Cinematography: AFI Awards (Nigel Bluck)
  • Best Editing: AFI Awards (Denise Haratzis)
  • Best Original Music Score: AFI Awards (Anthony Partos)
  • Best Costume Design: AFI Awards (Cappi Ireland)
  • Best Production Design: AFI Awards (Melinda Doring)
  • Winner: Best Actor (Joel Lok) – If Awards
  • Winner: Best Actress (Joan Chen) – If Awards
  • Winner: Best Production Design (Melinda Doring) – If Awards
  • Winner: Achievement in Acting (Joan Chen) – Louis Vuitton Hawaii FF
  • Winner: Best Feature Film – Hawaii FF
  • Winner: Best Actress (Joan Chen) – Turino FF
  • Winner: Best Actress – Film Critics Circle of Aust
  • Winner: Best Screenplay – Film Critics Circle of Aust


  • Best Film: If Awards
  • Best Film: AFI Awards
  • Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted): AFI Award
  • Best Sound: AFI Awards
  • Best Lead Actor: AFI Awards
  • Young Actor Award: AFI Awards
  • Best Supporting Actress: AFI Awards
  • Best Music: If Awards
  • Best Cinematography: If Awards
  • Best Film: Golden Horse Film Awards (Taiwan)
  • Best Performance by Actress: Asia Pacific Screen Awards
  • Competition selection: International Eurasia FF 07 (Turkey)
  • Competition selection-:Torino FF
  • Australia’s official entry into the Foreign Oscar Category for the 2008 Academy Awards
Film Type Feature Fiction
Director Tony Ayres
Producer Michael McMahon & Liz Watts