Multi-hyphenate Tsu Shan Chambers was volunteering at the 2000 Paralympic Games when she had a chance meeting with the Chinese Para Judo team.
An optometry student at the time, she went on to become the assistant for the visually impaired group of athletes, one of whom she would develop feelings for and visit in China the following year during her preceptorship.
More than two decades later, the experience forms the inspiration for My Eyes, a family drama she co-wrote and will co-produce and star in that has been filming in Melbourne for the past four weeks.
Directed by Angela How, the film follows Alana, an optometrist that discovers her daughter has a rare inherited eye disease, leading her to look into her past to realise her vision for the future.
A judo athlete with a vision impairment halfway across the world may hold the answers she seeks, but old truths threaten to derail the mission and Alana’s marriage.
Joining Chambers in the cast are Adam Garcia, newcomer Nia Rush, and two-time Mexican Paralympic judo champion Eduardo Ávila Sánchez.
She will produce for Wise Goat Productions, working with So Much Films’ Judi Levine and executive producers Mark Lazarus and Heather Ogilvie.
The team will fly out to Mexico at the end of this month for a further two weeks of production. The privately-funded project is being made on a budget of about $3.5 million.
Chambers began work on the script during COVID with How and Ade Djajamihardja, going on to receive development support through VicScreen.
She said what began as a story about her interaction with one of the Para-athletes evolved into a family drama over time that explored the impact of such a connection.
“It’s about how a family survives something like this,” she told IF.
“There’s a lot of elements that deal with love, [specifically] unconditional love; if your child isn’t your biological child, you can still love that child.
“Also love for someone who has a vision impairment and is different to the mainstream. What’s great about this is we do portray the character as being a super hot athlete, and Eduardo is just amazing.”
My Eyes will be released by Pivot Pictures in 2024.