Filmmakers, activists, and academics are among speakers at the Queer East Film Festival – a curated series of screenings across London with accompanying panel events exploring identity, religion, family, adulthood and politics through queer relationships on screen.
Twenty-nine films (feature, documentary and short) from 15 countries across the Asian continent will be screened in cinemas across the capital to foster and promote a cultural understanding of what it means to live in Asia and be queer today. Accompanying panel discussions aim to spark conversations and widen understanding of LGBTQ+ rights in countries that are rarely seen on screen in the UK.
Following the recent success of Parasite, a South Korean film hailed for giving international audiences an insight into the colliding worlds of class in the country, it is hoped UK audiences will have the opportunity to see a diverse representation of LGTBQ+ voices and issues.
Many have seen the significant progress of LGBTQ+ rights across the world, but progress in Asia has been mixed. The event aims to include everyone in the UK to be part of the discussion and celebrate diverse identities, cultures, and heritages of Asian and Asian diasporic communities who’ve often been excluded from mainstream discourse.
The programme for the first edition of Queer East is a mix of classic retrospectives and new releases, to explore how culture, law, history, and social norms have affected and built the current Asian queer landscape over 50 years of cinema.
Some of the festival highlights include the UK Premieres of Memories of My Body (Indonesia, 2018), Indonesia’s official submission for the 2020 Academy Awards; Sisterhood (Macau, 2016), a rarely seen lesbian story by emerging young director Tracy Choi, and The Shepherds (Taiwan, 2017), about the first Christian church for LGBTQ+ communities in the Mandarin-speaking world.
The programme features classics such as The Wedding Banquet (Taiwan, 1993), Ang Lee’s romantic comedy about a gay Taiwanese immigrant to the USA, and Funeral Parade of Roses (Japan, 1969), an unapologetically erotic portrait of an unseen community of drag queens, restored in 4k from original 35mm negatives. Other films on the programme include A Dog Barking at the Moon (China, 2019), about the daughter and wife of a homosexual man in China, which won the Teddy Jury Award in 2019, and Spider Lilies (Taiwan, 2006), Zero Chou’s cult film exploring the ambiguous relationship between two women who share a traumatic past. This won the Teddy Award for Best Feature Film in 2007.
Director and Programmer of Queer East, Yi Wang says:
“The fight for LGBTQ+ rights in Asia remains strong and committed, but stereotyping, misrepresentation and discrimination still exist. This is especially true for queer people of colour, who are marginalised on the grounds of both race and sexuality, and often excluded from mainstream discourse.
By introducing these brave queer storytellers from East and Southeast Asia to UK audiences, I hope Queer East can be a gentle reminder for all of us that the LGBTQ+ community should not leave anyone behind. The film festival circuit needs to challenge boundaries, provide a more inclusive space, and welcome diverse perspectives.
Queer East is a platform for our Asian neighbourhood to celebrate their heritage and identity, for our queer friends to address the challenges many of us face, and for everyone to explore and exchange inspiring stories through the sharing of cinema and culture.”
THE FULL PROGRAMME WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON FRIDAY 13 MARCH.
Date: 18 April to 2 May Venues (across London): Barbican Centre, Curzon Goldsmiths, Deptford Cinema, Genesis Cinema, King’s College London, Lexi Cinema, Prince Charles Cinema, Regent Street Cinema, Rio Cinema, SOAS University of London, Somerset House.