For the very first time, Queer East Film Festival brings to London rarely seen LGBTQ+ cinema from East and Southeast Asia. With the aims to uplift and amplify the voices of those marginalised in the LGBTQ+ community, Queer East is a celebration of queer storytelling and activism in East and Southeast Asia, reflecting on the significant progress that has been made, but also spreading awareness of the obstacles that millions still face in Asia.
Through a mix of classic retrospectives and new releases, our season-long showcase maps the Asian queer landscape of the past few decades. Find out what means to be Asian and queer today from the unheard voices of storytellers, activists, academics, and those who dare to challenge social norms, history, and the law in Asia. The festival welcomes everyone to be a part of the discussion, to celebrate diverse identities, cultures, and heritages of the Asian diaspora, who have often been excluded from the mainstream discourse in the UK.
Our journey continues onto Japan with the classic Funeral Parade of Roses. Written and directed by Toshio Matsumoto, it is a 1969 drama set in the dazzling underground gay scene of 1960s Tokyo.
“Funeral Parade of Roses is a jagged shard of a film, an underground dream of longing and despair…” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Restored to 4K from 35mm film, Funeral Parade of Roses follows Eddie (played by androgynous actor Peter), a transgender hostess at Bar Genet, and the violent love triangle between her, drag queen Leda (Osamu Ogasawara) and the club’s owner Gonda (Yoshio Tsuchiya). Loosely based on Oedipus Rex, Funeral Parade of Roses offers an openly erotic and unapologetic portrait of an unseen community of drag queens. A blend between documentary interviews, fictional narrations, and Matsumoto’s own avant-garde footage, this product of the Japanese New Wave is an unmissable part of East Asian LBGTQ+ film.
Another unmissable is Oscar-winning Director Ang Lee’s second feature film, The Wedding Banquet (1993). An Academy Award, Golden Globe-nominated romantic comedy, it had won the Settle International Film Festival’s Golden Space Needle and the Golden Bear at the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival. The story follows Wai-Tung Gao (Winston Chao), a Taiwanese immigrant in the United States who lives with his partner Simon (Mitchell Lichtenstein) in New York City. Happy and successful in his work as a real estate investor, Wai-Tung faces pressure from his parents on the topic of marriage. After their attempts at setting him up with various women, Wai-Tung relents and resolves to marry Wei-Wei (Mary Chin), a struggling Chinese artist who needs a green card. But what begins as an inconvenient lie evolves into an elaborate deception when his parents decide to fly to America and plan an extravagant wedding. Both farcical and touching, Lee’s film is another landmark of LGBTQ+ cinema, sparking debates on gay marriage.
The Wedding Banquet will be screened in conjunction with a short, titled Military Dog (2019). Directed by Ping-Wen Wang, an up and coming director from Taiwan, Military Dog contrasts the immensely restrictive environment of military camp with the young Jun-Zhong Lee’s new experiences in BDSM.
Written by Penney Chu