Queer East Film Festival(15 – 26 September)is delighted tounveilits full programmecentred onqueer storytellingand activism fromEast and Southeast Asia.This years programme includes aselection of 37features, shortfilms and artists moving image worksfrom 15 countries,ranging from new releases to classic retrospectives, mainstream box office hits to radical independent works, accompanied bypre-screening introductions and filmmaker Q&As.Aseries of online panel discussionswith international guests will run throughout the festival period, coveringtopicssuch aswomen in thefilmindustry, queer film festivals, and the development of Asian LGBTQ+ movements.
Launched in 2020, Queer East is a new film festival that aims to amplifythevoices of Asian communities in theUK,whohave often been excluded from mainstream discourse,despiteAsiansbeingone of thecountrysfastest-growing ethnic groups.Queer East seekstofacilitate a better understanding of the richness of queer Asian heritage, and to bridgethe cultural distancebetween the UK publicandthe region.Featuring works made by internationalfilmmakersandAsian diaspora communities, andlookingtofoster authentic voices,the festivalexplores a wide range of perspectives,showcasingstoriesthat intersect withpersonalexperiences, cultural norms,andsocio-politicaltransitions.
The second edition of Queer East opens with the UK premiere of Daughters (2020), the directorial debut ofHajime Tsuda from Japan; and will close with the multi award-winning Dear Tenant (2020), directed by Taiwanese filmmaker Yu-Chieh Cheng.
This year, the worlds spotlight shone on Japan as the host country for the Summer Olympics. This drew the programmers attention to Japanshistory of iconoclastic, inventive and unapologetic queer filmmaking, and its growing strength in advancing LGBTQ+ rights. To markthis, the festival presents Focus Japan, a ten-film programme that looks back on queer representations in Japanese films from the 1980s until today. It features adouble bill from the Japanese maestro Nagisa Oshima; Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983) and a rare35mm presentationof Gohatto(1999);a queer revisiting of the1995 animation Ghost in the Shell(dir. Mamoru Oshii) and the 20th anniversary screening of Ryosuke Hashiguchis Hush!(2001), alongside recent releases like Queer Japan (dir. Graham Kolbeins, 2019) and Close-Knit (dir. Naoko Ogigami, 2017).
Building onthesuccess of last year, the festivals Focus Taiwan strand continues with Days(2020)by the internationally acclaimed auteur Tsai Ming-Liang, the UK premiere of Teddy-award winning director Zero Chous Secrets of 1979(2021), and a special presentation of The End of the Track(dir. Tun-Fei Mou), a rediscovered classic made in 1970. The series also includes an exciting line-up of short films and experimental works that showcase Taiwans vibrantqueerculture.
Other highlights include a 20th anniversary screening of Lan Yu(dir. Stanley Kwan, 2001), one of the most iconic gay films in the Mandarin-speakingworld, presented here in its newly restored version; South Koreas award-winning drama Moonlit Winter (dir. Daehyung Lim, 2019); and drag comedy Number 1(dir. Kuo-Sin Ong, 2020) from Singapore.
Significantprogressand landmark rulings have been made across Asiain recent years, from India’sdecriminalisation of homosexualityto Taiwansrecognition of same-sex marriage.However, challenges and obstacles remain, and are faced by manypeople.It is within this context that Queer Eastexplores the various forces that have shapedthe current queer landscapein East and Southeast Asia, reflecting on what it means to be Asian and queer today through its curatorial approach.
The pursuit of legal protection for, and recognition of, marriage equality and same-sex families has been one of the focal points in campaigns for LGBTQ+ rights in Asia.Hence, the programme this year has a particular focus on family,a noun that conveys strong cultural traditions and ideologies.
Yi Wang, Festival Director and Programmer for Queer East,discusses his approach:
By showcasingfilms that challenge conventionalunderstandings of family kinship,I hope to provoke a conversation about how we understand and interpret the meaning and formation of family, through an alternative queer lens,even when the films do not include obvious LGBT storylines.
Global events in the past year, from Covid-19-related anti-Asian attacks to the Black Lives Matter movement, have once again reminded us how vital fair and authentic racial and sexual representation is for our society. LGBTQ+ people have had labels, stereotypes and stigmas imposed on them for a long time. For me, queer is a word without consistent meaning, and we should not settle on a one-note definition.I believe that film is one of the most direct and accessible mediums that allows us to address issues and situations that people simply werent aware of before. Films enable us to construct a more positive, inclusive and dynamic LGBTQ+ narrative both outside and within the LGBTQ+ communities.
Queer East Film Festival is supported by Film Hub London, managed by Film London. Proud to be a partner of the BFI Film Audience Network, funded by the National Lottery. The Focus Japan programme is organised in partnership with the Japan Foundation, with support from Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation and Japan Society. The Focus Taiwan programme is supported by the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan and Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute. This years artists’ moving image programme is supported by Arts Council England.
Coming soon in autumn this year, highlights of the Queer East Film Festival will tour to a number of UK cities including Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Sheffield and more. Full details and dates to be announced.
More info: https://queereast.org.uk/festival-2021/
Written by: GlitterBeam