Diversity as Strength

Underrepresentation of culturally, linguistically, and racially diverse Australians in the arts is an issue that Diversity Arts Australia (DARTS) attempts to combat, as executive director Lena Nahlous tells us

feature (adelaide) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 22 Feb 2018

Diverse Screens is DARTS latest foray into increasing visibility of culturally diverse Australian People of Colour in film. This year, Adelaide will have the opportunity to share in these experiences, and for some, finally find themselves reflected in films that position People of Colour in powerful leading roles.

Executive director of DARTS, Lena Nahlous, pointedly speaks on the importance of cultural diversity, stating that “art and creativity are how we see ourselves reflected in the world and they often reflect our identity and who we are. To not see yourself represented renders you invisible or can make it appear that you’re not part of a culture or not relevant to a culture that you’re a part of, and that’s really problematic.”

DARTS commissioned four filmmakers of diverse backgrounds to each create a short film relating to the experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse Australians. Ali Mousawi, Maria Tran, Roxie Vuong, and Thuy Nguyen were chosen to explore their personal and shared experiences through a film genre of their choice, which resulted in a motley assortment of documentary and comedic mockumentary. The films tackle serious issues such as the dehumanisation of asylum seekers in Australia, typecasting and ethnic stereotyping, white-washing in the Arts sector, and the marginalisation and exclusion of People of Colour in The Arts and similarly creative fields.

The filmmakers were granted unconstrained freedom to express their narrative and creativity by not being limited to a singular topic or genre, only to adhere to the umbrella themes of “diversity, access and inclusion.” This, Nahlous says, was an executive decision to ensure the voices of these four creatives were being amplified.

“One of the reasons we did Diverse Screens was to position artists themselves as advocates for change,” said Nahlous. “We devised the project with the idea that rather than us telling you what the issues were, [we thought] why don’t we ask culturally diverse filmmakers to articulate issues around inclusion, exclusion, cultural diversity, the arts, and their experiences through film on their own terms?”

Ali Mousawi’s Beyond Christmas Island, Maria Tran’s The Subtractor, Roxie Vuong’s Act Now, and Thuy Nguyen’s Against the Grain highlight the subversive power of cultural visibility, and the importance of equity through the representation of People of Colour through film.


Diverse Screens, Nexus Arts, 1 Mar, 7.30pm, FREE