Food, family and film are on the menu for a pair of Griffith Film School (GFS) grads, with their debut documentary series to screen on SBS this weekend.

Master of Screen Production alumni Mary Duong and Rachel Anderson created, directed, produced and starred in Bananas, a three-part series that will screen as part of the SBS Short Film Festival.

Celebrating diverse voices

Bananas was one of 14 projects from across Australia selected for the SBS Short Film Festival.

“I’m definitely excited to have our work on SBS – it has such a strong track record of celebrating diverse content,” Mary said.

“I feel like it’s the natural home for our work.”

Rachel is a Filipino-Australian from Hervey Bay, while Mary is a queer Vietnamese-Australian from Brisbane. Each five minute episode looks at the challenges of growing up between two cultures in the Sunshine State, with a focus on food and family.

Family, friends and food

Griffith Film School graduate Mary Duong and her mother Thuy.

“On the first day of the shoot, I realised how all these threads have come together with this project,” Mary said.

“How lucky am I to be able to combine my love for family, friends, and food with this series?

“This was also the first project where I actively included my parents in the process. I think my dad got a kick out of proudly telling his friends that we were filming a documentary and his wife and daughter were in it.

“Rachel and I were also able to celebrate our friendship and surround ourselves with a crew made up of dear friends from our film school days.”

A great adventure

Griffith Film School graduate Rachel Anderson and her mother Rita.

Rachel said the week-long shoot allowed her to reconnect with family and re-examine her identity.

“It was a great adventure and an incredible experience, but at the same time it was also hard,” she said.

“Through this experience, I realised that the series was giving my mum a voice, something that she never had growing up.

“I’ve never seen a woman like my mother on screen. Never a family like mine on screen.

Bananas was an opportunity for Mary and I to tap into a part of ourselves that had (been) lost.

“It was more than fun Asian snacks, spring rolls and chicken pho. This project gave us a chance to embrace being Asian as part of our identities.”

A strong foundation

The pair credit their time at Griffith Film School with giving them the skills they needed to launch a career in the film industry.

“Film school allowed me to really work out who I was and what stories I wanted to tell,” Rachel said.

The pair worked together on the successful web series Two Weeks, which was created by Mary and co-directed by Rachel, and made with the support of Griffith Film School’s commercial production arm, LiveLab.

A second season is being planned and the pair are keen to tap into the network of filmmaking talent from Griffith Film School.

“It’s really great to continue working with all of these amazing people we know from film school,” Mary said.

“You not only learn how to craft a story for the screen, but gain access to a whole network of filmmakers.”

Remarkable talent

Professor Herman Van Eyken

Head of Griffith Film School, Professor Herman Van Eyken, said the success of graduates like Mary and Rachel reflected the calibre of talent nurtured at GFS.

“We are very proud of what our students, graduates and faculty members are producing, and are delighted to see their work being recognised at a national level,” he said.

“Initiatives like this allow our filmmakers to make industry connections and build a diverse audience for their work.

“This production featured a raft of talent from GFS – from the key creatives to cinematographer, editor and production design.

“Most of the young filmmakers involved in this project completed their undergraduate studies at GFS and benefitted from the opportunities provided in our Masters program.

“Their success reflects the calibre of teaching and learning happening at GFS.”

The SBS Short Film Festival will run from 13-15 September via SBS On Demand. Bananas was produced with the Assistance of Screen Queensland, and developed and produced in association with SBS.