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  • Writer's pictureAayushi Sharma

The Kaleidoscope Project - empowering cultures through cinema

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

This joint initiative by Screen Australia and ABC ME seeks to provide a lens into the complexities of migrant life in Australia.

Stills from the four films selected to be screened through the Kaleidoscope Project.

Over the last few years the cultural engagement between India and Australia has grown manifolds. The one underlying aspect that forms the foundation of this cultural engagement is the diversity that characterises India and Australia alike. What makes Australia a multicultural hub in this day and age is the country’s open reception and space that it provides to diverse cultures to bloom through inclusive policy-making and community based work. Inclusion of diversity in policy making is an important step for a country to be able to provide an important platform for different communities to interact with each other and form a peaceful society. In a world mired with ethnic conflicts and inward looking policies, Australia stands as an important example of inclusivity.

This aspect has translated well into the various initiatives within the country by state as well as non-state actors that constantly work towards bringing out the voices of not just the diverse Australian communities, the indigenous communities but also the vast cultural diaspora that resides in the country. The diaspora communities in Australia not only contribute to the economic and social platforms in the country but also add to the cultural and artistic expressions making the Australian society even richer in perspective.

In the context of artistic expression, a very novel project to look at is “The Kaleidoscope Project” for filmmaking in partnership with Australian national broadcasters Screen Australia and ABC ME. The project, much like a kaleidoscope, aims to reflect the different colours of cultural expression in Australia.

Connecting creativity to harmony

An opportunity for filmmakers across communities, this project aims to provide a platform to the film productions that best reflect the experiences of the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) communities. About four standalone films were commissioned and funded under the project to portray the extent of diversity in Australia.

Launched in 2021, this project categorically aimed to target the audiences aged 8 to 12 years to create an opportunity for children to learn about the marvellous Australian traditions to enhance cultural harmony on the occasion of National Harmony Day on 21st March. The underlying genius of this project lies in the initiative of bringing about the niche stories of these young artists towards the mainstream and making an effort to make the children in Australia aware about the need for sensitivity and inclusion in multicultural and multiethnic society such as this.

The project was open to be pursued and applied by young filmmakers in the country following which a rigorous selection process was carried on. The selected four films were declared to be given the impressive amount of about $100,000 to create a well produced film of a duration of twenty minutes or so. The producers, directors and editors at the national broadcasting services provided professional assistance and guidance to these young and budding filmmakers that allowed them to produce quality content in the stipulated time.

Selected stories

After a thorough process of shortlisting the films that would be finally screened, four remarkable stories were selected to be produced. The four films finally screened as a part of the Kaleidoscope project were- Viv’s Silly Mango, Gugu naGogo, Namaste Yoga and Yaz Queens.

Mary Dong and Rachel Choy’s film, Viv’s Silly Mango, traces the story of three young Asian girls who try to navigate through friendship and family ties and the complexity of growing up in a new culture through music. Taku Mbudzi, in the production Gugu naGogo explores the cultural and intergenerational divisions through the lens of a twelve year old who has recently moved to Australia from Zimbabwe. This sensitive tale captures the deep struggles that migrant children go through in trying to make sense of the cultural disparities in their daily lives.

Ravi Chand’s Namaste Yoga is a very strong account of the experiences of oppression, racism and marginalisation that are deeply internalised in the mind of a twelve year old. The boy struggles with his identity as a migrant Indian trying to navigate through the new culture of Australia. The Indian cultural practice of Yoga is seen here as a safe haven for the boy who ultimately finds refuge in Yoga to connect with his cultural roots and proclaim his identity.

Finally, Lara Kose’s Yaz Queens is a tale of a long lost connection between a father and a daughter who have lived in different cultures. The cultural divide acts as a barrier but the shared love of music ties both of them together as they try to bridge the divide and find common ground.

The films premiered on the 20th of November, 2022 and became huge successes. A common theme that ran across these productions was the character’s struggles to determine their cultural identity but also finding novel and creative ways to navigate through. These experiences were very key to understanding the realities of the migrant population in Australia but also provides an insight into Australia’s strong receptiveness towards multiculturalism and multilingualism. Taking active and affirmative action through projects like the Kaleidoscope is an important example of how these stories can be brought to the mainstream.

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