Cast
Aya                             …        Eri Ishida
Frank                           …        Nicholas Eadie
Mac                             …        Chris Haywood
Willy                           …        Tim Robertson
Headwaitress               …        Sumiko McDonald
Junko                          …        Miki Oikawa
Yano                           …        Atsushi Suzaki
Inoue                           …        Takahito Masuda
Ken, aged 5 years        …        Chrisopher Parker
Ken, aged 12 years      …        Jed Chegwiddon
Barry                           …        D.J Foster
Nancy                          …        Mayumi Hoskin
Mandy                         …        Julie Forsyth
Tina                             …        Taya Straton
Fisherman                   …        Nao Fakushima
Wood chopper #1        …        Sandra Williams
Wood chopper #2        …        Evelyn Johnson
Wood chopper #3        …        Cathy Mundy
Mimicking man           …        Warwick Randall
Pushy Woman             …        Sally Anne Upton
Spinner at Casino        …        Howard Stanley
Two Up player            …        Hiroshi Takayama
Punter                          …        Matthew Crosby
Kato                            …        John O’Brien
Lorna                           …        Marion Heathfield
(Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101387/fullcredits)

 

Full Production Credits
Directed by                                       
Solrun Hoaas

Writing Credits
Solrun Hoaas                          …        Writer

Produced by
Solrun Hoaas                          …        Producer
Denise Patience                       …        Producer
Katsuhiro Maeda                     …        Associate Producer

Original Music by
Roger Mason

Cinematograpgy by
Geoff Burton
Film Editing by
Stewart Young

Production Design by
Jennie Tate

Costume Design by
Jennie Tate

Production Management
Leigh Ammitzboll                   …        Unit Manager
Robert Kewley                        …        Production Manager

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Euan Keddie                            …        First Assistant Director
Sonya Pemberton                    …        Second Assistant Director
Tony Gilbert                            …        Third Assistant Director
           
Art Department
Chris James                             …        Stand-by Props

Sound Department
Gerry Nucifora                        …        Boom Operator
Camera and Electrical Department
Ian Benallack                           …        Key Grip
Colin Williams                        …        Gaffer

Costume and Wardrobe Department
Margot Lindsay                       …        Assistant Costume Designer

Other Crew
Jo-anne Carmichael                 …        Production Coordinator
Simon Britton                          …        Music Coordinator
Arthur Manoussakis               …        Grip Assistant
Kris Koslovic                          …        Art Direction
Mervyn K. Trim                      …        Art Direction Assistant
Darrin Keogh                          …        Focus Puller
Kathryn Milliss                       …        Clapper Loader
Jennifer Mitchell                     …        Stills
Julie Forsyth                           …        Language Coach (English)
Oliver Streeton                        …        Title Designer
Victoria Sullivan                     …        Continuity
Greg L. Wilson                       …        Bestboy
Roby Hechenberger                …        Generator Operator
Ben Osmo                               …        Sound Mixer
Hugh MacLaren                      …        Location Scout
John Penders                           …        Assistant Editor
Peter Claney                            …        Sound Editor
Danae Gunn                            …        Props Buyer
Margot Lindsay                       …        Wardrobe Mistress
Lynne Heal                              …        Costumer
Bronwyn Doughty                  …        Standby Wardrobe
Kirsten Veysey                       …        Makeup
Annette Blonski                      …        Script Editor
Simone Higginbottom             …        Production Accountant
Steeves Lumley                       …        Insurer
Warren & Menzies Roth         …        Legal Services
Ros Jewell                               …        Production Secretary
Glen Rueland                          …        Stunts Assistant
Bruce Braun                            …        Laboratory Liaison
Rudi Renz                               …        Catering
Keith Fish                               …        Catering
Jeremy Thompson                   …        Publicist                                                                     
(Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101387/fullcredits
              http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/144534/Aya/credits )
             
Production Company
Goshu Films
FILM VICTORIA
AUSTRALIAN FILM FININCE CORPORATION PTY LTD.
(Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101387/companycredits )

Theatrical Distributors
Ronin Films (Australia)
Guentohsya/Bandai
Home Cinema Group (Australia)

Foreign Distributor Sales
Kim Lewis Marketing

Release Dates
Canada                        7 September 1990 (Toronto Film Festival)
Singapore        25 March 1991 (Singapore International Film Festival)
(Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101387/releaseinfo )

Also Showed at
Toronto Festival of Festivals (Contemporary World Cinema)
September 6-15, 1990

American Film Market (AFM)
Location: Santa Monica
February 28-March 8, 1991

Montreal World Film Festival (Cinema of Today and Tomorrow)
August 30, 1990

Göteborg Film Festival – Sweden 1991

TV Sales
Encore Pay TV
Channel 7 (but to date no broadcast)
Channel Four (UK)
Japan
Norway
HBO-Asia 2nd Ch.
Asia SAT 1
China
Singapore
Ireland
Malaysia
Yugoslavia
Poland
Thailand
Cable for Latin-Am
Eastern Europe
(Source: http://www.innersense.com.au/mif/hoaas_scrapbook.html )

Award and Nomination


Year

Result

 

Award

Category

Recipient

1991

Nominated

Australian Film Institute

AFI Award

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Geoff Burton

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Jennie Tate

Best Achievement in Production Design

Jennie Tate

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Chris Haywood

Best Actress in a Lead Role

Eri Ishida

Best Original Music Score

Roger Mason

1990

Won

Torino Film Festival

CICAE Award

Artistic quality and Innovation

 

1991

Won

 

Asia-Pacific Film Festival

Best Actress

 Eri Ishida

Additional Film Information
Duration: 95 minutes
Genre:
Classification: PG
                        Parental Guidance Recommended For Person Under 15 years
Country of Origin: Australia
Filming Location: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
                              Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
                              Point Lonsdale, Victoria, Australia
Color: Color
Box office Figure (in Australia): Less than $100,000
(Source: http://www.film.org.au/feature_boxoffice.htm )

General Information Internet Sites
Internet Movie Database
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101387/
Australian Film Commission: http://www.afc.gov.au/filmsandawards/filmdbsearch.aspx?view=title&title=AYAAAA

The New York Times
http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/144534/Aya/overview

British Film Institute
http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/438864

Spout
http://www.spout.com/films/101370/detail.aspx

Hollywood.com
http://www.hollywood.com/movie/Aya/178766

Turner Classic Movies
http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=513026&category=Full%20Credits

Variety
http://www.variety.com/profiles/Film/main/120050/Aya.html?dataSet=1

ShowBiz Data
http://www.showbizdata.com/credits.cfm?id=5660

InBaseline
http://www.inbaseline.com/project.aspx?project_id=120050

Bibliography of reviews
Print
‘Aya’ Lisa Bowman. Cinema Papers. May 1991, p. 52-53.  Reprinted in Australian Film 1978-1994, ed. Scott Murray, 1995 (p.310)

‘Suburban Subversions: Women’s Negotiation of Suburban Space in Australian Cinema’ Catherine Simpson. Metro Magazine 118. 1999, p. 28-30

Online
Ulrike Erhardt
Green Left Online
2 October 1991
http://www.greenleft.org.au/1991/30/465   

 

Other Reviews (Some excerpts from festival catalogues and press)

"A compelling love story with complex emotional multi-layered performances, enhanced by beautiful and sensitive images; Roger Mason’s memorable, haunting score uses repetitive phrases to portray the complexities of both Japanese and western culture."
Lousie Keller, Moving Pictures International, 25 July 1991


“"A delightful tale of transculturation and self-preservation, Aya offers an important perspective on representing confrontations of race, tradition and personal aspirations."
"Contemporary World Cinema" (catalogue entry, Toronto) by Helga Stephenson, 1990, (p.140)


"The subject matter is dealt with seriously, respectfully and sympathetically, but the result is curiously unaffecting. Aya is at the centre of almost every sequence, but she remains more like a shadow than a character, physically present but emotionally remote. Things happen to her, but the film never manages to take us inside her experience of them."
Tom Ryan, The Sunday Age, 20 October 1991


"Aya works through a series of pessimisms to come to its ultimate optimistic conclusion. Its compression of more than two decades of her life into 95 minutes of screen time makes for a somewhat staccato structure that is remarkable for the way in which Hoaas has distilled from each episode a statement that advances the drama and augments the film-goer’s involvement with Aya to make the film so rewarding."
Dougal MacDonald, The Canberra Times, May 2, 1992


“Japanese women are portrayed in western cinema as gentle, chaste and elegant - an approach which has a kind of fairytale-like nostalgia about it, but which also conveys a lack of self-reliant individuality and in this sense is faintly derogatory ... The Australian film Aya (l991) which broke away from these stereotypes and pointed the way to a new direction deserves to be noted.... [Aya] is an ordinary woman found anywhere, portrayed attractively and above all, with realism ... Japan changes but stereotypes remain."
Tadao Sato, Cinemaya No. 17-18, 1992-93 (p. 63).


"Solrun Hoaas gives us the brief exchanges that must carry the weight of the partners’ emotions, the gestures that take over when language fails and the silences that are the most eloquent of all.

She is quite perceptive about the way such marriage works. Unlike other directors who have attempted films about bicultural couples and got only one partner really right (see Alan Parker’s Come See the Paradise). Hoaas knows both sides of the cultural equation. [....}

By the end of the film, we not only like Aya, with her gutsy charm, but feel that we know her. She is a sister to the Japanese woman we met in a small Ohio town, growing kyuri in her back yard, showing us the kokeshi doll collection in her living room and talking with pride about the two all-American kids she has raised. She is at once a very typical Japanese and a uniquely international individual."
Mark Schilling, The Japan Times, February 11, 1992.
General Interest Online Articles (Director’s Information)
Solrun Hoaas
From the filmmaker’s scrapbook
http://www.innersense.com.au/mif/hoaas_scrapbook.html

Solrun Hoaas
http://www.innersense.com.au/mif/hoaas.html

Solrun Hoaas
In Search of the Japanese in Me
http://www.gangway.net/34/gangway33_34.Hoaas.html

Synopsis
Aya is a post-war story of love, marriage, friendship and courage. It is a story of a young Japanese war bride, Aya (Eri Ishida) who married to Frank (Nicholas Eadie), an Australian soldier who was on duty with the occupation forces in Japan, and later she was suffering cultural shock and domestic violence.

The film set in 1950s, the period where most of the Australian was back to the normal life after World War II, but for Aya the battle is just beginning. Although Aya could not speak fluent English and not really accepted by her mother-in law, the marriage between her and Frank was still full of happiness, however, the happiness was only maintained for first few years.

In the next twenty years of living in Australia, Aya battles to accept Australia and its culture, she trying her best to learn English and Australian culture, but the conflict between her and Frank was getting worst. Aya and Frank love each other, but she feels more comfortable with Japanese-speaking Mac (Chris Haywood), a close friend of Frank. Unlike Mac who loves and respects Japanese culture, Frank wants Aya to forget her Japanese identity and culture, he does not like Aya cooks Japanese food and teaches their son, Ken to speak Japanese language.

Frank became remote, self-pitying and more violence after he had an accident, so Aya started to work in a Japanese restaurant to support the family. Aya became more strong and confident since she works in the restaurant. Later, Aya met an Australian-Japanese businessman; she has a short affair with him and conceives a child. However, the relationship does not maintain, Aya lost the baby and separates with him.

The film comes to the end after Frank hurts Aya by throwing a sea egg to her in the kitchen. In the end, Aya divorces him and become a translator for the Japanese fishing fleet based in Hobart.  

Director Solrun Hoaas
Solrun Hoaas is a well-known Melbourne-based filmmaker and writer, she born in Norway but moved to Canberra in 1972. Hoaas has spent more than ten years living in Japan, with fluent Japanese language and understanding of Japanese culture and custom, she has filmed several documentary films which are also related to Japanese culture such as Effacement (1980), Waiting for Water (1981), Sacred Vandals (1983), Green tea and Cherry Ripe (1988) and etc.

Aya is a first remarkable feature film that directed and written by Hoaas. This film received six nominations in Australian Film Institute award including Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Costume Design, Best Achievement in Production Design, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Actress in a Lead Role and Best Original Music Score. It also won the CICAE (Confederation Internationale des Cinemas d’Art et d’Essai) prize at Torino film festival in 1990 and Best Actress at the Aisa-Pacific Film Festival in 1991.

Most of the Hoaas’s films are focus on Japanese culture, but Aya and Green Tea and Cherry Ripe are both focus on Japanese war bride, tell audiences the story of cross-cultural marriage from their point of view.

After the released of Aya, Hoaas started to film in Korea, she filmed Pyongyang Diaries in 1997 which tells the story of her own experience in North Korea and Rushing to Sunshine in 2001, a film that tells story between the relationship of South Korea and North Korea.

Aya in Relation to Australian Cinema
Aya is one of the important films of Hoaas and can be described as woman’s film. According to Basinger (cited in Gillard, 2008, 61-62) she defines woman’s film in a straight forward way,

A woman’s film is a movie that places at the center of its universe a female who is trying to deal with emotional, social, and psychological problems that are specifically connected to the fact that she is a woman. 

All of Aya problems occur in the film due to the fact that she is a Japanese woman who living in Australia. Aya suffers culture shock at the beginning of the film. The opening scene of Aya is an Australian country fair with a wood-chopping competition, surrounded by Australians; Aya performs a traditional tea ceremony, in this scene, audience can see that Aya’s husband is totally looks uninterested with his wife performance and viewers in the fair also look odd when they see Aya performs the tea ceremony. It shows the western society still cannot accept the eastern culture in 1950s.

Aya also shows the character’s different emotion throughout the film. At the beginning, Aya is happy with her life in Australia but has less strength and confidence, she trying to speak English and learn the western culture so that the society and her mother-in-law could accept her. Later she feels lonely and upset because of the pressure that Frank put on her and at the same time, she misses Japan and her family. The conflict between Aya and Frank exist form the start, Frank does not interested with Aya’s performance in the country fair, he does not appreciate the Japanese food that Aya prepares and even throws them into the sink, besides, he is also unhappy that Ken speaks in Japanese.

However, things started to change after Frank has an accident. In order to support the family, Aya works in a Japanese restaurant. Audience can see Aya is happy in the restaurant, she feels more comfortable and confident there. Beside, Frank lost his job and become more violent after the accident, he does not like Aya works in the Japanese restaurant and put more pressure on her, but in stead of silent, Aya fights back.

Aya is gaining confidence and strength through out the film; she is independent and not overly dependent on Frank, she fights back and finds another way out if things do not work. In the end, she even divorces Frank and starts her career as a translator.
Another unique aspect of Aya is its ‘Australianess’ and Aya is an Australian film in the way of its suburban life. The first feature of its suburban life is the country fair in the suburb; it is a common event in the suburb in Australia to gather the community and to enhance the relationship between the residents.

Another feature of its suburban life in Aya is the backyard. According to Simpson (1999, 25), “Australian suburban ideology is inextricably bound up with specific notions of the backyard, so it is no surprise that backyards are often depicted in Australian films about suburbia”. As in many of the Australian films, the backyard in Aya plays an important role in the film.

First, in the film, we hear Aya voice-over tells us “We have moved to Melbourne now. Soon I can grow all the vegetables I need for Japanese food- eggplant, pumpkin, turnips. We still have to order rice and it smells old”. From here, we know that the backyard is a place that allows Aya to plant all the vegetables that she needs for the Japanese food, and the Japanese food that she makes is the way that shows her Japanese identity and culture. Second, the backyard provides a space for the family to have entertainment, Aya and her family invites guests to the backyard to have barbecue. Third, as we could see in the film, Mac brings some koinabori (a Japanese flying fish/ flag pole) to Aya, she hangs those koinabori at the backyard. Aya invites guests to have a traditionally Aussie style barbecue at the backyard where decorated with koinabori and Japanese lanterns. From this scene, the backyard performs a cultural maintenance between Japanese culture and Australian culture.
Overall, Aya is a good film in the sense of it explores the culture shock between the western and eastern culture, and it also broke the stereotype of women are weak and not independent, portrays women stronger parts.

Reference
Gillard, Garry. 2008. Chapter 6: The Woman’s Film. In Ten Types of Australian Film. 2nd ed. Murdoch University.

Simpson, Catherine. 1999. Suburban Subversions: Women’s Negotiation of Suburban Space in Australian Cinema. Metro Magazine 118: 24-32.

 

A critical review by Zi Hui Ku 2008