Barfold will become the backdrop for a film that seeks to change the portrayal of Chinese-Australians on screen.
Fire Rabbit is the simple story of two brothers foraging for food in the Australian bush but explores complex familial and cultural relationships, in a 1939 setting.
“The importance of telling this story is that there’s quite a large under-representation of Chinese-Australian culture in the media at the moment,” said director Jack Wilson-Lee.
“It is inspired by my own grandfather’s childhood and stories he would tell me.”
His grandfather, a second-generation Chinese-Australian, grew up in rural Victoria amid racism and domestic violence, which are strong themes in the film. It also examines identity, sense of belonging and inner strength.
Jack has partnered with producer Patrick Campbell on the project in their final year of film study at Swinburne University.
During their research for the film, the pair noticed a trend in the portrayal of typical Chinese-Australian families that leaned on comedy.
“With a lot of things, representation seems to first come in the form of comedy and then it shifts to drama, and I want to be at the forefront of that,” Jack said.
“I think now is a very good time to tell this story. We’ve always got discourse around immigration…and there is a large portion of the country feeling displaced and dealing with isolation. I think this story will show how, in those really hard moments, you can cope with that discomfort.”
Patrick said the film was planned for Australian and international festivals and had the potential to gain industry interest to springboard into a larger-scale project.
“It’s really interesting and there are a lot of challenges involved in it but I do think that it’s a really special story and that hasn’t been told before. It’s quite unique and explores a lot of really interesting ideas,” he said.
The creators have immersed themselves in the culture and history of the period to create an authentic portrayal.
Patrick said Barfold embodied the stunning Victorian countryside they had hoped to capture and would feature Jack’s own family farm there.
With filming scheduled for March, their next step is secure a cast to bring the story to life.They are now scouting Chinese-Australian youths who speak some Cantonese to play the role of the brothers.
The filmmakers have launched a crowdfunding campaign to help fund the project: pozible.com/profile/patrick-campbell-3