15 April 2024

Queer East Film Festival Launching In London This September

Showcasing rarely seen queer cinema from East and Southeast Asia In London Cinemas Next Month

 The 2021 Queer East Film Festival has unveiled  its full programme centred on queer storytelling and activism from East and Southeast Asia.

This year’s programme includes a selection of 37 features, short films and artists’ moving image works from 15 countries, ranging from new releases to classic retrospectives, mainstream box office hits to radical independent works, accompanied by pre-screening introductions and filmmaker Q&As. A series of online panel discussions with international guests will run throughout the festival period, covering topics such as women in the film industry, queer film festivals, and the development of Asian LGBTQ+ movements.

Launched in 2020, Queer East is a new film festival that aims to amplify the voices of Asian communities in the UK, who have often been excluded from mainstream discourse, despite Asians being one of the country’s fastest-growing ethnic groups. Queer East seeks to facilitate a better understanding of the richness of queer Asian heritage, and to bridge the cultural distance between the UK public and the region. Featuring works made by international filmmakers and Asian diaspora communities, and looking to foster authentic voices, the festival explores a wide range of perspectives, showcasing stories that intersect with personal experiences, cultural norms, and socio-political transitions.

The second edition of Queer East opens with the UK premiere of Daughters (2020), the directorial debut of Hajime Tsuda from Japan; and will close with the multi award-winning Dear Tenant (2020), directed by Taiwanese filmmaker Yu-Chieh Cheng.

This year, the world’s spotlight shone on Japan as the host country for the Summer Olympics. This drew the programmer’s attention to Japan’s history of iconoclastic, inventive and unapologetic queer filmmaking, and its growing strength in advancing LGBTQ+ rights. To mark this, 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 a double bill from the Japanese maestro Nagisa Oshima; Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983) and a rare 35mm presentation of Gohatto (1999); a queer revisiting of the 1995 animation Ghost in the Shell (dir. Mamoru Oshii) and the 20th anniversary screening of Ryosuke Hashiguchi’s Hush! (2001), alongside recent releases like Queer Japan (dir. Graham Kolbeins, 2019) and Close-Knit (dir. Naoko Ogigami, 2017).

Other highlights include a 20th anniversary screening of Lan Yu (dir. Stanley Kwan, 2001), one of the most iconic gay films in the Mandarin-speaking world, presented here in its newly restored version; South Korea’s award-winning drama Moonlit Winter (dir. Daehyung Lim, 2019); and drag comedy Number 1 (dir. Kuo-Sin Ong, 2020) from Singapore.

Despite the significant progress and landmark rulings have been made across Asia in recent years. It is within this context that Queer East explores the various forces that have shaped the current queer landscape in 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 showcasing films that challenge conventional understandings 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.”

Wang continues, “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 weren’t aware of before. Films enable us to construct a more positive, inclusive and dynamic LGBTQ+ narrative both outside and within the LGBTQ+ communities.”

Then in the autumn the highlights of the Queer East Film Festival will tour to a number of UK cities including Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Sheffield and more. F

Feature Films
Wednesday 15 September
Opening Film: Daughters (UK Premiere)
Original Title:ドーターズ

Two close friends who share an apartment in Tokyo reassess their lifestyles and womanhood when one of them becomes pregnant.

Director Hajime Tsuda is an artist and leading event director in the Japanese fashion world. His work focuses on the diversifying lifestyles and values of contemporary women, using painterly visuals complemented by evocative emotional portraiture. Daughters is his first film.
18:30 | Genesis Cinema | 104 min | Japan | 2020

Thursday 16 September
Lan Yu (20th Anniversary) + Q&A
Original Title: 藍宇

Lan Yu is a passionate yet poignant portrait of a gay relationship between Han-Dong, a successful businessman, and Lan Yu, a sensitive college boy, who first meet during a one-night stand.

Director Stanley Kwan is one of Hong Kong’s most famous directors, and one of the few openly gay directors in Asia. His films include the classic Rouge (1988), starring Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui, as well as Women (1985), Center Stage (1991), Red Rose White Rose (1994), and Everlasting Regret (2005).
18:20 | Curzon Soho | 86 min | Hong Kong, China | 2001

Saturday 18 September
My Dear Friend (UK Premiere)
Original Title: 好友

Searching for her boyfriend in his rural hometown, Jing-Jing accidentally unearths a mysterious relationship that has lasted for sixty years.

Ping-Dao Yang is a director, screenwriter and novelist who graduated from the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts. His documentary The River of Life won several international awards and My Dear Friend is his debut fiction feature.
15:00 | Curzon Hoxton | 106 min | China | 2018

Saturday 18 September
Number 1 (UK Premiere)
Original Title: 男⼉王

Struggling to find a job to support his family, Chee-Beng unwillingly takes employment as a manager at ‘Number One’, a popular drag club. Soon, Chee-Beng is roped into joining the drag queens on stage. But to everyone’s surprise, he instantly becomes the club’s biggest sensation – something he is desperate to conceal from his family.

Kuo-Sin Ong is a veteran film and TV director from Singapore. Working mostly in TV, Ong directed his first feature film Judgement Day in 2012. He also directed the road trip musical One Headlight, and co-directed Time is Money with Taiwanese entertainer Kang Kang.
21:00 |Genesis Cinema | 98 mins | Singapore | 2020

Sunday 19 September
Days + Q&A
Original Title:日子

When Kang meets Non, gentle caresses soothe their pain and loneliness as they find consolation in each other. Acclaimed director Tsai Ming-Liang’s experimental feature extends the boundaries of abstract realism, distilling his subtle cinematic language into its purest form. Days won multiple awards at major film festivals internationally.

Tsai Ming-Liang is a Malaysian-born Taiwanese filmmaker, widely regarded as one of the greatest directors of all time. Narrative and dialogue are often absent in his films, which are composed of slow and long takes, focusing on desire, emptiness and loneliness. His films have won numerous awards including at the Cannes, Berlin and Venice film festivals.
12:00 | Curzon Soho | 127 min | Taiwan, France | 2020

Sunday 19 September
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
Original Title: 戦場のメリークリスマス

David Bowie stars in Nagisa Oshima’s portrait of friendship and obsession among the men confined in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during World War II.

Nagisa Oshima was a director and screenwriter, widely acclaimed as one of the greatest Japanese filmmakers of all time. He directed over twenty feature films, several of which were highly controversial for their ground-breaking depictions of sexuality and gender.
17:00 | Catford Mews | 123 min | UK, Japan | 1983

Monday 20 September
Original Title: 彼らが本気で編むときは

Abandoned by her mother, Tomo heads for her uncle’s home, where she finds him living with his beautiful girlfriend Rinko, a transgender woman.

Naoko Ogigami is a Japanese director whose works have screened internationally. Her 2006 film Kamome Diner became a huge hit, while MEGANE – Glasses (2007) earned attention at several film festivals including Sundance, Hong Kong, Berlin, and San Francisco. Rent-a-Cat (2012) was featured in the Panorama section of the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival.
18:15 | Curzon Hoxton | 127 min |Japan | 2017

Tuesday 21 September
Hush! (35mm, 20th Anniversary)
Original Title: ハッシュ!

Asako sees the opportunity to become a mother by having a child with a gay man, Katsuhiro. He and his partner are initially astonished by her proposal, but gradually, they begin to open up to the idea of having a baby. The award-winning Hush! is classic film in the history of Japanese LGBTQ+ cinema.

Logline Asako proposes to have a child with Katsuhiro, who is in a same-sex relationship with Naoya.

Ryosuke Hashiguchi is a director whose work focuses on LGBT issues. His films include A Touch of Fever (1993), Hush! (2001) All Around Us (2008) and Three Stories of Love (2015). Hashiguchi has won multiple Best Director awards at festivals across Japan.
18:10 |Genesis Cinema |135 min | Japan|  2001

Tuesday 21 September
Secrets of 1979 (UK Premiere)
Original Title: 弓蕉園的秘密

In the summer of 1979, during Taiwan’s martial law period, Bing-Kuan secretly develops a romantic relationship with her college friend Shu-Lan. Yet their youthful romance is threatened as the Kuomintang regime seeks to suppress dissident voices. Secrets of 1979 is the latest film by award-winning director Zero Chou, depicting a turbulent period in Taiwan’s history.

Zero Chou is a writer and director who has dedicated her entire career to depicting LGBTQ+ relationships. Her films include Spider Lilies (2007) and Drifting Flowers (2008), and she has won various awards, including the Teddy Award at the Berlinale.
20:30 |The Lexi Cinema | 86 min | Taiwan | 2021

Preceded by short film – Undercurrent | Dir Yu-Tong Weng | Taiwan | 2020 | 19 min

Wednesday 22 September
Queer Japan + Q&A

Trailblazing artists, activists, and everyday people dare to shine in this kaleidoscopic view of LGBTQ+ culture in contemporary Japan.

Director Graham Kolbeins is a Canadian queer filmmaker, writer, and designer. He received a fellowship from the Japan-U.S. Friendship Council in 2016, and subsequently spent five months directing Queer Japan.
18:20 | Bertha DocHouse | 100 min | USA, Japan |2019

Wednesday 22 September
Madame X (10th Anniversary)

When a country is threatened by a militant and homophobic political party, hairdresser Adam must defeat the bad guys by transforming into the legendary transgender superheroine Madame X. Blending action-packed superheroes with trashy queer parody and martial arts, director Lucky Kuswandi’s film offers a riotously entertaining perspective on LGBTQ+ issues in Indonesia.

Director Lucky Kuswandi is one of Indonesia’s most exciting young directors. The Wall Street Journal has praised his films as ‘original and uncharted’ and they have been screened in festivals worldwide, receiving various awards and accolades.
17:50 | The Prince Charles Cinema | 90 mins | Indonesia | 2010

Thursday 23 September
Shinjuku Boys + Shorts

This documentary explores three onnabe – Japanese women who live as men – working as hosts at a Tokyo nightclub for female clients.

Director Kim Longinotto is renowned for creating extraordinarily intimate portraits of women on the fringes of society, tackling controversial topics with sensitivity and compassion. Jano Williams worked at the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation NHK, and subsequently in the television company NTV. Prior to making The Shinjuku Boys, the pair co-directed Eat The Kimono (1990) and Dream Girls (1993).
18:20 | The Horse Hospital | 54 min | UK, Japan | 1995

Preceded by FATbulous Me | Dir Chia-Hsuan Tsai | Taiwan | 2021 | 19 min +
Moving in Between | Dir Chia-Hsuan Tsai | Taiwan | 2019 | 32 min

Thursday 23 September
Ghost in the Shell
Original Title: 攻殻機動隊

Adapted from the manga by Masamune Shirow, Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 masterpiece remains a milestone of animated cinema. Cyborg cop Major Motoko Kusanagi leads a special police security unit that is tasked with tracking down ‘ghost hackers’, criminals who can clandestinely tap into the bodies and minds of other people.

Mamoru Oshii is an acclaimed Japanese filmmaker, television director, and writer. Famous for his philosophical storytelling, Oshii has directed a number of popular anime and is credited with creating the first ever OVA (Original Video Animation). He has received, and been nominated for, numerous awards including the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
20:30 | The Lexi Cinema | 82 min | Japan | 1995

Friday 24 September
The End of the Track
Original Title: 跑道終點

Filmed during the martial law period and banned by the Kuomintang regime due to its homosexual undercurrents and likely for its political overtones, The End of the Track is a landmark in Taiwanese cinema. Tun-Fei Mou’s film makes a quietly radical statement about repressed desire, examining the psychological impact of trauma on a young boy.

Director Tun-Fei Mou was born in 1941. He relocated to Taiwan in 1949 and graduated from Taiwan Art College. After graduation he made two films, I Didn’t Dare to Tell You and The End of the Track, which were among the first independent films made in Taiwan.
20:30 | The Horse Hospital | 90 min | Taiwan | 1970

Preceded by Melt | Dir Ping-Wen Wang | Taiwan| 2018 | 11 min

Saturday 25 September
Gohatto (35mm)
Original Title: 御法度

The handsome Kano Sozaburo is admitted to an elite samurai group. He is a skilled swordsman, but his physical beauty leads the members of the strictly male group to compete for his affections, generating tensions that threaten to become lethal. In his final film, Nagisa Oshima explores the ambiguous forms of masculinity that the samurai code concealed.

Nagisa Oshima was a Japanese director and screenwriter, widely acclaimed as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. He directed over twenty feature films, several of which were highly controversial for their ground-breaking depictions of sexuality and gender.
16:00 |Genesis Cinema | 100 min |Japan |1999

Saturday 25 September
Miss Andy (UK Premiere)
Original Title: 迷失安狄

Transitioning to womanhood late in life, Evon has a chance encounter with a migrant worker and her son, and gradually gains the confidence to begin trusting other people.

Teddy Chin is a Malaysian director, actor and screenwriter. His short film Mr. Almost Right (2017) screened at Cannes in the Short Film Corner, and in 2018 he directed his first feature, In My Heart.
21:00 |Genesis Cinema | 108 min

Sunday 26 September
Moonlit Winter (UK Premiere)
Original Title: 윤회에게

Saebom finds a love letter sent from Hokkaido in Japan to her mother Yunhee. Curious about the mysterious, secret relationship, Saebom concocts a plan to find the sender of the letter. The award-winning Moonlit Winter is a heartfelt tale about a woman’s revisiting of her hidden past.

Originally from Keumsan, director Daehyung Lim moved to Seoul to study filmmaking. In 2014, he won the Best Short Film Award at the Seoul Independent Film Festival for The World of If, and his first feature Merry Christmas Mr. Mo won the NETPAC Award at the 2016 Busan International Film Festival.
12:00 | Curzon Hoxton | 106 min | South Korea |2019

Sunday 26 September
Dear Tenant (UK Premiere)
Original Title: 親愛的房客

The ownership of an apartment is transferred to the landlady’s young grandson, who has been legally adopted by her tenant, setting the stage for conflict with the family. This heartfelt portrayal of unconditional love makes a plea for LGBTQ+ equality, and won three Golden Horse

Yu-Chieh Cheng is an acclaimed Taiwanese filmmaker and actor whose work includes Do Over (2006), Yang Yang (2009), and Wawa No Cidal (2015). His films have won prizes at the Golden Horse Awards and the Taipei Film Festival.
17:50 | Genesis Cinema |112 min |Taiwan |2020

Goodbye Mother (UK Premiere)
Original Title: Thưa Mẹ Con Đi

Van, the heir of a Vietnamese family, returns home from the USA for the first time in nine years. But his whole family is surprised when with a young Vietnamese American named Ian comes with him. Nobody knows that Ian is Van’s boyfriend, nor that the pair intend to announce their relationship to Van’s widowed mother.

Trinh Dinh Le Minh is a Vietnamese writer and director whose work has been recognized at film festivals including the Busan and Hawaii International Film Festivals. His films often explore the role played by traditional values in generating family conflicts; Goodbye Mother is his debut feature.

Screened on UK tour in partnership with Cardiff’s Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival in October

106 min | Vietnam |2019

Queer East Film Festival  will take place in London from 15th – 26th September. For more info and book tickets head to the Festivals website.

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