BEHIND THE CAMERA: LGBTQ IN FILM | Hong Kong, Soho House

The Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (HKLGFF) is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Prior to its opening screenings and party next week, we were treated to an exciting panel discussion at Hong King’s new Soho House, with three speakers: Lillian Liu, short film curator at HKLGFF; Kit Hung, writer and director of the award-winning feature film Soundless Wind Chime (2009); and Jun Li, director (and co-writer) of feature film Tracey (2018).

Assistant professor Dr Alvin K. Wong from the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Hong Kong acted as moderator for the panel. There seemed a general agreement that Wong Kar-Wai’s Happy Together (1997) was a watershed moment for queer cinema in Hong Kong: before, queer characters existed primarily as clownish comic relief; after, queer relationships could be seen as the domain of the mainstream.

Just as Wong Kar-Wai’s films promoted Hong Kong cinema globally, the panel also discussed the difficult intersections between traditional Chinese culture and queer rights, which tends to be associated with western culture. The general consensus was that globally speaking, Hong Kong’s queer cinema follows, rather than leads. But this led into a wider discussion about lingering colonialism: why should a gay wedding look western?

Even though the whole panel were Cantonese-speaking, the whole discussion and Q&A was conducted in English, which made it really easy for English-speaking audience members to feel involved. The whole vibe was very relaxed, and despite the impressive professional calibre of the speakers, there was no hint of arrogance. A privilege to spend the evening in the company of people truly passionate about queer cinema.

HKLGFF will be hosting the second Asia Pacific Queer Film Festival Alliance panel at Eaton Hotel on 8 Sept 2019.

Check out Kit Hung’s new “queer utopia” film project Forever 17.

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