Focus on LGBT films from China

A Chinese rainbow will rise at KASHISH 2013! The country focus at KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival this year is China. A package of cutting edge and path breaking queer films from China – where homosexuality is still a taboo – will be screened at India’s and South Asia’s biggest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender film festival. The festival will be held at Cinemax Versova between May 22-26, 2013 and at Alliance Francaise between May 23-25, 2013.

`` Each year KASHISH honours one country in our `Country Focus’ package to appreciate and acknowledge efforts made by other countries producing qualitative queer cinema,” says Sridhar Rangayan, festival director. ``I was invited as a guest to the Beijing Queer Film Festival in 2011 and I saw how the festival was held against insurmountable odds. But the passion and excitement by the community attending the festival was palpable and encouraging. Mainstream cinema from China has already made its mark, but a small group of filmmakers are making films on queer themes. These films are often made underground and with great ingenuity. Our effort at KASHISH this year is to showcase these films and the brave filmmakers,’’ added Rangayan.

Festival Programmer Saagar Gupta says, “Homosexuality is taboo in China yet their queer cinema has managed to carve a niche for itself, because it has always been true to its people and culture!! The films in the package reflect the ground realities of queer life in China with great honesty”     

This specially curated package will showcase three narrative features and three documentaries from mainland China and Hong Kong.

Simon Chung’s highly acclaimed feature Speechless set in a remote part of Southern China will be the opening film of this year’s Country in Focus package.

 Speechless (Wu Yan)
(2012) 92 min / Feature              HONG KONG, CHINA               
Director: Simon Chung

 In a remote part of Southern China, a mysterious Westerner appears on a riverbank, completely naked. Unable or unwilling to speak, he is taken in by the local police station and then to a hospital, where he is befriended by Jiang, a medical orderly. When Jiang learns that the Westerner is about to be transferred to a mental asylum, he decides to rescue him and takes him to his uncle’s village. There, the slow unfolding of memories and events reveals a traumatic secret to the mysterious stranger’s past.

Speechless is a caringly captured tale of love and romance between a mysterious Frenchman and a Chinese student which takes dramatic turns, portraying with disarming subtlety the underground realities for Chinese gay men who usually face severe stigma and ridicule as well as self doubts because of an unaccepting society.

Hong Kong based indie filmmaker Simon Chung’s movies are known for exploring both a Western perspective of China as well as a Chinese perspective of the West. With his latest film, Speechless, he once again effortlessly manages to marry both, and offers an unpredictable story with a fascinating view of contemporary gay life in mainland China. Thursday May 23rd 9.15pm Cinemax Versova


 Graupel Poetry
2011 / 77 min / Narrative Feature / HONG KONG, CHINA             
Director Bruce X. Saxway

Leung and Ming came to the big city pursuing their dreams of being successful actors. Unusual intimacy emerged in their daily life. When the taboo was broken, Leung realized that he was just living underneath the shadow of Ming. Standing on the edge of moral boundaries, Leung tries to pull himself out from the reality, but his world had already fallen apart as boundaries between dream and reality have blurred. 

Graupel Poetry is about the complicated relationship between two young men who come to the city to pursue dreams of becoming successful actors. Their growing intimacy with each other creates complexities, that is more than just social taboos; it is a questioning of one’s own identity.

Hong Kong digital visual artist Bruce X. Saxway’s debut feature bristles with raw emotions and unspoken words that imbue the film with an unusual edginess.
Friday May 24th 7.10pm Alliance Française de Bombay


 Lan Yu
(2001) 86 min / Feature              HONG KONG, CHINA                 
Director: Stanley Kwan

The Chinese package also includes the evergreen classic Lan Yu by renowned filmmaker Stanley Kwan. Set against the backdrop of the Tiananmen Square uprising and throbbing with sensuality, the film is about a successful businessman’s relationship with a young student, where infidelity and political situation form barriers to a beautiful epic love affair.

Wealthy businessman Chen Handong meets young Lan Yu at a local pool bar. What started off as a one-night stand turns into a life changing relationship for both, until one night Lan Yu finds him with another guy. Crushed by Handong’s infidelity Lan Yu breaks off their relationship. Months later during the infamous student massacre at Tiananmen Square, Handong was informed that Lan Yu was also seen there with other students. Worried about his safety, Handong rushes there and is happy to see that Lan Yu has survived the attack. Lan Yu is ready to revive their relationship but Handong is caught between his own desires and traditional expectations. This epic love story finally ends as fate plays a cruel trick!
Friday May 24th 9.15pm Cinemax Versova


Mama Rainbow
(2012) 80 min / Documentary                  CHINA                
Director: Fan Popo    

Fan Popo’s documentary feature Mama Rainbow tells the story of six mothers from across mainland China using their love to overcome prejudice and difficulties and create happy families.

For Chinese parents, finding out that their kid is gay usually means a tragedy. However, during recent years a fresh rainbow wind has been blowing over the Chinese mainland: a pioneering generation of Chinese parents has been stepping up and speaking out on their love for their gay kids. The documentary features six mothers from all over China, who talk openly and freely about their experiences with their gay and lesbian children. With their love, they are giving a whole new definition to Chinese-style family bonds.

Fan Popo, who will be visiting the festival to present his film says, “I had the idea of making this film three years ago, but I felt it was ‘impossible’! But China has developed so fast, now we could finally make it, with six mothers ‘coming out’ together with their children. From their stories, we found out how important communication is – it does not matter if it’s to a gay audience or straight audience!”
Friday May 24th 3.15pm Alliance Française de Bombay


The Lala Road
(2012) 10 min / Docu Short                     AUSTRALIA                 
Director: Letitia


Chinese women face intense pressure to marry before. Not to marry and not to bear children is to disrespect family. Stakes are especially high for Cain, Zhang Linlin, Baozi and Ruyi. They are ‘Lalas’ or women who love women. 
Friday May 24th 7.00pm Alliance Française de Bombay


(2012) 30 min / Docu Short       CHINA                                       
Director: Xiaogang Wei

Completing the Chinese focus is the short film Strong by prolific Chinese filmmaker and documentarian Xiaogang Wei. Strong puts a human face on violence against LGBT people in China, with the poignant portrait of Zhang Lingxuan, a young man who is physically harassed in high school for being openly gay.

He finds out how deep homophobia runs when he doesn’t get any support from the school authorities. Armed with an indestructible spirit, he courageously pursues his dreams and starts using his experience to raise LGBT awareness throughout China.
Friday May 24th 6.30pm Alliance Française de Bombay