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.
In comparison, Looking for? (2017), Adorable (2018), and Beer! Beer! (2019) present a more modern take on the struggles of the Asian gay community. Like Funeral Parade of Roses, these films are personal, intimate, expressing their most private and sexual desires; a rarity in East Asian films.
Looking for?, a hit at Mardi Gras Film Festival and Outfest, as well as a UK Premiere, takes its name from one of the most commonly asked questions on gay dating apps. This familiar yet foreign search serves as the starting point for Taiwanese director Tung-yen Chou as he explores digital and virtual intimacy in gay communities. Looking for love? Looking for lust? Or is it somewhere in between, something more complicated? Through interviews involving sixty men from all over the world, this exchange of personal histories prompts Yen to ponder on his own relationships, thus inviting the audience to consider their own experiences and ultimately, what they themselves have been looking for.
Screened in conjunction with Looking for? are Adorable and Beer! Beer!, two shorts in the form of an animation and an anti-romantic comedy. By Taiwanese director Cheng-Hsu Chung and Chinese director Popo Fan respectively, their different styles offer varying perspectives with Looking for?, albeit exploring the similar theme of love and sex. In this six minute long animation, the use of bold and colourful imagery in Adorable evokes the fantasies of the freedom offered by gender fluidity. Beer! Beer!, in comparison, embodies a more quiet reflection – put in Fan’s own words, this crowd-funded short film is “my reflection about love and sex […] Through the black humour of two strangers meeting, you will see the transformation of active and passive positions of different identities. It reflects urban loneliness from a queer angle; the entertainment surface takes you to a more profound layer.”
Written by Penney Chu