So I attended my first ever LGBT film festival today. Okay, maybe it wasn’t a film festival, but that’s what I’m calling it, because they screened 4 films and the mood was kinda festive. Haha. In any case, it was BRILLIANT!
I got to know about the event one day while idly browsing through my Peatix app and signed up in 3 seconds flat. I didn’t take a very close look at what they were showing to be honest, just the title “Queer Shorts” was enough to make me buy the tickets.
And so did more than a hundred people it seems.
This private screening was so popular that when I told a friend who might be interested about it, it was already fully sold out.
That’s a good start.
Well, here are the films shown and my feelings about each one of them.
1. A Straight Journey: Days and Nights in their Kingdom / 从黑夜到白天：为同性恋拍照时，我们聊了些什么
This was basically a documentary being LGB in China. It was eye-opening and kinda what you’d expect, I mean, coming from conservative China and all that. Having said that, you’d sympathise with the subjects because some of the men have a really tough life, having married wives but being unable to have sex with them because they couldn’t bring themselves to do it. When one said he’d not slept with her for 8 years there was a collective gasp in the audience. Haha. That was funny.
There were light-hearted moments too, for example, when one parent commented, and I paraphrase, “How do you know you don’t like girls if you’ve never dated them? Do you have a (penile) sexual dysfunction? That can be treated you know.”
This lovely movie was the winner of the ShanghaiPride Film Festival 2015.
It was a good start and I quite enjoyed watching it. I think it’s tougher being LGBT in China than in Singapore just because we are so much more Westernized and (somewhat) more accepting.
2. Let me in / 렛미인
I hated this one. Noir and disturbing, it was a Korean film about a women and a teenage school girl. It was very art-house. Couldn't quite follow the plot. But what I gathered was that a girl wanted to kill herself and fell in love with an older woman. The latter then encourages her to do so and is upset when she failed in her suicide attempt. Girl gets angry and later woman appears to have taken the first step to kill herself as well. Girl later then eats poisoned cake and dies too. Then she wakes up (apparently cake wasn’t poisoned), and watches woman fall of a ledge of a building.
It was weird, violent and gruesome. The organisers kindly gave a trigger warning that there would be scenes of suicide and self harm so we were prepared.
Ah well, the joys of attending a film festival.
Thankfully, the next two redeemed the event. Haha.
3. To Mum (Love Me)
This one was a crowd favourite, probably because it’s set in Singapore. It’s about a young closeted lesbian who accidentally outed herself when her mother found a compromising photo while cleaning up her room.
It then chronicles the journey both mother and daughter take as they try to come to terms with the daughter being gay. The mom is a traditional Chinese mother and tries to change her daughter but later comes around.
4. The Younger / 青親
Last film was as heart-breaking as the previous one was heart-warming.
It was about a young man who worked at a massage parlour to pay for the medical expenses of his grandmother who had Alzheimer’s.
We see how he serviced his customers, fell for one of them, got propositioned by one, and raped by another. Shortly after, his grandma killed herself at home. That was really sad.
This short synopsis does not do justice to the show. If you are able to, I don’t know how, do try to watch this, it’s really good.
I was curious and after the film festival ended, I approached the organizers, Stephanie and Muslim and asked them how they dealt with the notoriously strict Media Development Authority (MDA). They said it was a private screening and as they didn’t advertise, it was fine and dandy. I must say I was very lucky to have chanced on it on Peatix myself then.
They mentioned that they are looking at more screenings in the future but nothing’s been confirmed. I really applaud their effort and am delighted that someone’s doing this. LGBT folks can relate and straight ones need exposure, or some of them at least. I’d go for another screening over a Hollywood blockbuster any time man.