Chan, Pauline

Critical Biography    Filmography    Reviews    Links   Bibliography

Chan, Pauline – Critical Biography  Top

Pauline Chan was born in Vietnam and grew up there until she was fifteen. Her mother was a Chinese woman who had fled Hong Kong during the Second World War in order to escape from the Japanese invasion, while her father was a French-educated Vietnamese businessman who was arrested and imprisoned for his capitalist activities when Vietnam became communist. When war broke out in Vietnam, Chan was sent along with her younger brother to study in Hong Kong. There, Chan and her brother found themselves impoverished, but paid their way through an industry-run drama school by acting as film extras. Although Chan found roles in numerous martial-arts films, the parts were not significant, and Chan left Hong Kong to pursue a communications degree at UCLA.

Upon her return to Hong Kong, Chan chose to emigrate along with her family to Australia. There she found roles in a number of television and film productions, including the TV series Vietnam (1987) and Bangkok Hilton (1989), as well as films such as Bruce Beresford’s Paradise Road (1997). Chan, however, did not feel fulfilled with her acting career, nor was she satisfied with the roles she was receiving. She first turned to working in documentaries as a researcher and director’s assistant at Film Australia. Thereafter, she went to film school and spent years working on her graduation film, the award-winning short The Space Vision (1989). Chan made her feature film debut as a writer-director with Traps (1994), an adaptation of the novel Dreamhouse by Kate Grenville. The film plot retained the novel’s original story about an Englishwoman’s sense of alienation when she travels in Italy but changed the setting from contemporary Tuscany to 1950s Vietnam. She followed this work with a thriller starring Mimi Rogers (Little White Lies, 1996) which she took on mainly for its technical challenges.

33 Postcards
33 Postcards (2011)

Chan’s most recent film is also one of her most personal. Starring Guy Pearce, 33 Postcards (2011) marks the first co-production effort between China and New South Wales, and tells the story of a teenaged Chinese orphan (Zhu Lin) who gets the opportunity to visit her longtime sponsor in Australia when she takes part in a performing arts visit to the country. There, she discovers to her shock that her sponsor is in fact a convict who is in jail for manslaughter. The film deftly explores the relationship between the two characters, and won awards at both the Sydney Film Festival and the Shanghai Film Festival, China.

Filmography   Top

Feature Films:

Role Title (English) Title (Chinese) Year
Producer The Gateway N/A 2018
33 Postcards (Trailer) 美麗謊言 2011
Producer The Dragon Pearl (Trailer) 尋龍奪寶 2011
Development producer Painted Skin (Trailer) 畫皮 2008
Producer Ultraviolet (Trailer) 紫光原素 2006
Associate producer Belly of the Beast N/A 2003
Production manager Rush Hours 2 (Trailer) 火拼時速2 2002
Company director Sugar Factory N/A 1998
Director Little White Lies N/A 1996
Traps N/A 1994


Title (English)
Title (Chinese)
Tales of Love and Tears N/A 2003
Journey into Mongolia N/A 2002
Director Dusty Hearts N/A 1993
Hang Up N/A 1992
The Space Between the Door and the Floor N/A 1992

Reviews and Interviews Top

33 Postcards Reviews:

Daily News:
Hollywood Reporter:
New York Post:
The New York Times:

33 Postcards Interviews:

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio National (ABC RN): Interview with Pauline Chan, director: 33 Postcards

Special Broadcasting Services (SBS): 33 Postcards: Pauline Chan interview

 Traps (1994) Reviews:

The New York Times: FILM REVIEW;No Wonder the Guests Are Nervous

Los Angeles Times: MOVIE REVIEW : ‘Traps’: Passion and Honesty Get Lost in a Tangled Web


Links   Top

Official Website of 33 Postcards
Facebook Page of 33 Postcards

Bibliography   Top

  1. Dillon, Jo. Letter to a neighbour: Pauline Chan on crossing cultural lines through film [online]. Metro Magazine: Media & Education Magazine, No. 173, 2012: 94-96. Availability: <;dn=738227930017974;res=IELLCC&gt; ISSN: 0312-2654. [cited 15 Nov 17]

  2. Khoo, Olivia, Belinda Smaill, Audrey Yue. “Co-productions and New Queer Paradigms for Mobilities and Migration.” In Transnational Australian Cinema: Ethics in the Asian Diasporas. Maryland: Lexington Books, 2013, 165-182.
  3. Yue, Audrey. “Asian‐Australian Cinema, Asian‐Australian Modernity.” Journal of Australian Studies, vol. 24, no. 65, 2000, pp. 189–199.

Last Update: April 2019

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