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Queer independent cinema from China and Hong Kong from directors seeking to give voice to the LGBTQ community

 

We came up with the idea of curating a queer programme for CVF as early as 2013, as the festival began to receive an increasing number of entries related to queer issues. Homosexuality was decriminalised in Hong Kong in 1991, and in the PRC in 1997. Yet, LGBTQ communities have continued to face pressure from a social, cultural, and economic structure that is largely informed by neo-Confucian ethical values, neoliberal principles, and to a certain extent, Christian fundamentalist beliefs inherited from their colonial and semi-colonial pasts.

In the PRC, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT) supports multimillion studio co-productions that feature images of queer sexuality. Yet, without corporate financing, LGBTQ content on television and the internet has been actively removed by the authorities, and the Beijing Queer Film Festival has been consistently targeted by local government since 2001. Queer independent filmmakers in China therefore see their work not just as art, but also as an act of sociocultural activism that seeks to give a voice to members of the LGBTQ communities – especially women – who are marginalised by the liaison between corporate and state interests. Meanwhile, filmmakers in Hong Kong, facing increasing official pressure to forget local history and to incorporate Hong Kong’s socio-political identity with that of the larger nation-state, actively use cinema as a means to rediscover and reassert Hong Kong’s queer history as a site where the local, national, and the global intersect in the context of colonialism and China’s political crisis during the twentieth century. Our selection of films this year addresses these intricate issues.

 

I am Going to Make a Lesbian Porn

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Dir. Dajing
Documentary/ Experimental
Mainland China, 2015
In Mandarin with English subtitles
28 mins

Using an experimental docudramatic format, the film explores female same-sex eroticism and its expression, or repression, in the PRC.

Thin Dream Bay

海濱薄夢

Dir. Shu Kei
Fiction
Hong Kong, 2015
In Mandarin and Cantonese with English subtitles
33 mins

Shu Kei is one of Hong Kong’s most famous and well established independent filmmakers and Chair of School of Film and Television, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts. His short film, Thin Dream Bay, is based on a short story written by Yi Wen, a Shanghai intellectual who migrated to Hong Kong and became one of the most influential screenwriters and directors of Hong Kong Mandarin cinema in the 1950s and 1960s. Thin Dream Bay is about a Shanghai émigré in Hong Kong, an intellectual woman who experiences her sexual awakening and identity reconfiguration as someone who occupies the in-between-space between the local, the colonial, and the national.

Death of Lesbians

Still-3

Dir. Dajing
Documentary/ Experimental
Mainland China, 2015
In Mandarin with English subtitles
11 mins.

The mainstream LGBTQ movement, both globally and in China, has often been seen as a gay-male-dominated one. Lesbian rights occupy the intersection, or at times, liminal space, between the LGBTQ movement and women’s rights movement, and as a result, lesbians become effectively ‘erased’ from the larger sociocultural imagination. Through both documentary and experimental techniques, this film documents and opens a forum for further debate about the role of women and lesbians in the larger civil rights movement in the PRC.

A City of Two Tales

city-Still-2

Dir. Tony Zhiyang Lin
Documentary
Hong Kong, 2015
In Cantonese and English with English subtitles
29 mins

The film uses the perspective of two Hong Kong residents – one Hong Kong Chinese, one white Briton – to explore different experiences of aging and homosexuality in the city from the late twentieth century to the present day. In doing so the film maps out both a local and a transnational history connected, inevitably, to the story of British colonialism.

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