ASIA PACIFIC QUEER FILM FESTIVAL ALLIANCE SHORTS (2019)

The Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival has an alliance with seventeen queer film festivals throughout the Asian Pacific, and this special annual selection aims to showcase the best productions from the region. The fifth and final of these fifteen-minute shorts is Rohin Raveendran Nair’s devastatingly bleak The Booth (2019), which perfectly captures the desolate horror of a cavernous, modern shopping mall, as a young woman waits for her security guard lover.

Aditya Ahmad’s Kado (2018) is also extremely arresting, providing an intimate glimpse into the life of androgynous teenager Isfi (Isfiri Febiana), whose life is a series of changing clothes as she switches between prayer at the mosque and hanging out as “one of the guys”.

Adrian Chiarella’s Black Lips (2018) tells the story of an isolated, Mandarin-speaking, black market abalone trader (Jason Chong), who discovers a deep longing for the Australian deep-sea diver (Adam Marks), with whom he strikes up an uneasy alliance.

Jhi-han Yu’s erotic drama Gentleman Spa (2019) is well acted, but risks entering into cliché territory, even focusing on the shy janitor over the hunky masseurs who work there. Jess X. Snow’s documentary Afterearth (2019) loosely associates four women from Hawai’i, the Philippines, China and North America with the four elements; a slightly rambling endeavour that sometimes relies on the “noble savage” trope. Overall, a melancholy but finely crafted collection of short films, each with its own unique take on queer life.

The Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival runs at multiple venues until 21 September 2019.

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