The Home Song Stories

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The Home Song Stories
Promotional poster for The Home Song Stories
Directed by Tony Ayres
Produced byMichael McMahon
Liz Watts
Written byTony Ayres
Starring Joan Chen
Joel Lok
Qi Yuwu
Irene Chen
Steven Vidler
Kerry Walker
Haven Tso
Joe Phua
Music by Antony Partos
CinematographyNigel Bluck
Edited byDenise Haratzis
Distributed by Dendy Films
Release date
  • 9 February 2007 (2007-02-09)(Berlin International Film Festival)
  • 28 August 2007 (2007-08-28)(Australia)
Running time
103 minutes
Languages English

The Home Song Stories is an Australian film released in 2007. Written and directed by acclaimed Tony Ayres of Walking on Water (2002), The Home Song Stories stars Joan Chen, Joel Lok, Qi Yuwu, Irene Chen, Steven Vidler and Kerry Walker.


The film was announced as the Australian entry for the Foreign Language Film category of the Oscars. It received a total of nine nominations at the 2007 Inside Film Awards, which were held on 16 November at Crowne Plaza Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast.


The film is an autobiographical account of Tony Ayres' life at age eight, however the names have been changed. The story is narrated by Darren Yap as an adult Tom typing the story on a computer and reflecting on the story "which defines them, which shapes who they are." His mother Rose Hong (Joan Chen) was a nightclub singer in Hong Kong in 1964, where she met Bill, an Australian sailor, and married him to seek a better life in Australia, taking her daughter May (Irene Chen) and son Tom (Joel Lok). An opening montage of scenes shows Rose making several unsuccessful attempts to establish herself with Chinese partners before moving in with Bill again.

The story begins seven years after their initial migration to Australia, with the family returning to Bill's house in Melbourne. Bill's mother, Norma (Kerry Walker), who is disapproving of the family, has moved in. When Bill leaves on a tour of duty, Rose and Norma struggle for control over the house. Soon, Rose begins to have an affair with Joe (Qi Yu Wu), the son of the local Chinese restaurateur, who is in his twenties. He moves in with Rose, who tells Norma he is her aunt's son. Rose and her children are eventually kicked out when Norma finds Joe in Rose's room.

Rose settles in with Joe after renting a place from a Chinese man. Their relationship begins to break down, and Rose attempts suicide, however May and Joe discover an affinity for each other which develops into a friendship. Rose, believing that May is trying to take Joe away from her, beats her and curses her. May, as a result, also attempts suicide and Rose also ends up in despair. However, the mother and daughter are reconciled in forgiveness as Rose tells May the story of the difficulties and traumatic experiences in her childhood, where she was forced into a marriage and lost her first two daughters.

The relationship between Rose and Joe collapses, and the family once again returns to Bill's home, with Norma moving out. One afternoon when Tom is walking home with his classmate they encounter Rose in the front yard, and upon overhearing a conversation between two of his classmates bagging out Rose and her clothing, Tom blocks himself from his mother completely. Rose, in the meantime, has had her dream shattered, and is contemplating returning to Hong Kong when Tom abruptly tells her his apathy.

The film culminates in the adult Tom narrating, "Of all the things I remember about my childhood, this is what I remember the most." The eight-year-old Tom wakes up early in the morning to see the light to the backyard shed on and enters to find that Rose has hanged herself. Although she does not die initially, Bill receives a phone call later on confirming her death.

The epilogue to the film shows the adult Tom and his sister May with her family (who happen to be Ayres' real life family) returning to Bill's home. He narrates again, recalling how he never shed a tear for his mother, but instead, wrote the story fully to understand what has shaped him.

The real Tom, Tony Ayres, and his sister stayed with Bill after their mother's death. May ends up marrying the teacher who became their guardian soon after Bill's death.


Joan Chen Rose
Joel Lok Tom
Qi Yuwu Joe
Irene Chen May
Steven VidlerBill
Kerry Walker Norma
Haven TsoWing
Joe PhuaTom


The Home Song Stories has been selected to screen at the following film festivals:


2007 Inside Film Awards

2007 Australian Film Institute Awards

2007 Golden Horse Awards

2007 Asia Pacific Screen Awards


Brisbane International Film Festival

Hawaii International Film Festival

Torino International Film Festival

2007 Inside Film Awards

2007 Australian Film Institute Awards

2007 Golden Horse Awards

2007 New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards

Box office

The Home Song Stories grossed $452,488 at the box office in Australia. [1]

See also

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