Gentle Strangers


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1972, 55 Minutes

Australia is a popular destination for Southeast Asian students wanting to pursue further tertiary education. What is life like for these young people in an alien land, without the support of extended family, surrounded by strangers who hold seemingly free and easy attitudes to matters like drugs and sex, that are in direct conflict with traditional values back home?

Gentle Strangers gives us a glimpse into their world, a chance to understand their hopes and dreams and their difficulties adapting to an unfamiliar way of life.

Young Thai student Priya Souvasyha arrives in Sydney to study Business and Economics at the University of New South Wales. At her suburban boarding house she meets Chinese engineering student Lawrence Lee and gradually falls in love with him. Priya provides a welcome diversion for Lawrence, who as the eldest son is feeling familial pressure to perform well, and has succumbed to an out-of-control gambling habit. However, unbeknown to Priya, Lawrence has already been promised to a bride back home in Hong Kong.

Fellow student Rick Lay and his wife Yanti from Indonesia provide some semblance of a family life for the young couple, but when Yanti is badly injured and hospitalised after a drunk-driving car accident on a country road, the tables are turned as the younger couple rush to Leeton to help out in their friends’ crisis.

From negotiating the great Australian barbeque to going on dates without a chaperone, Gentle Strangers provides an insight into some of the challenges faced by Asian students in a sometimes intolerant, host country.

© 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.


Writer/Director: Cecil Holmes

Cinematographers: Bruce Hillyard, Mick von Bornemann, Don McAlpine, David Sanderson, Kerry Brown

Cast: Yee Choo Koo as Priya, Clem Chow as Lawrence, Jennifer West as Miss Emerson, Lyn Murphy as Mrs Baker, and Eric, Yanti and Ric Lay as themselves. Steve Mullawalla Dodd as the Aboriginal singer on the train and Kate Fitzpatrick as fellow boarder.

Year: 1972

Running Time: 55 Minutes

Classification: Exempt from classification

Curriculum Links: Australian History 'Post-War Australia'; Civics & Citizenship; English K-10 Insights about the peoples and cultures of Asia; Global Education; Immigration; Intercultural Studies; International Studies; SOSE/HSIE.


First Impressions

Downunder Grads

Migrant Experience, The

SKU 002101900
Brand Film Australia

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