5 Films to Watch at the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival 2021
The organisers of this year’s Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival say it’s a chance for all of us to support cinemas and filmmakers
The 32nd Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival is back from September 11–25. With more and more LGBTQ films made each year, the organisers say they’re spoiled for choice when it comes to offering audiences magical moments in the cinema.
So amid postponed screenings, shuttered cinemas, and a public that's sometimes still uneasy in public spaces, the festival has deliberately chosen some happier and more-light hearted LGBTQ-themed films this year.
With social distancing restrictions less tight than before in Hong Kong, organisers have brought back events like the opening and closing parties. And this year, a Short Screenplay Competition has been launched, which will see original work by local screenwriters read by a panel of industry experts. Two winners will receive one-on-one mentorship on how to turn their screenplays into films.
Movie screenings are taking place across Hong Kong. Here are five films you should try and see at the festival.
Get out, go to the cinema, support cinema and watch films...because they've been suffering for a long time— Joe Lam, Film Festival Director
Made on the Rooftop, South Korea
South Korean filmmaker, Kim Jho Gwang-soo charmed audiences at the 2012 edition of the festival with his comedy Two Weddings And A Funeral. He’s back this year, to open the festival with a heartwarming story about friendship and romance.
Made On The Rooftop follows famous online streamer Bongsik as he welcomes his recently single best friend (and his cat) into his home. If you’ve ever had a friend become your ‘chosen family,’ you’ll appreciate the funny moments and heartfelt conversations about love and life the two share. The film was also in the Official Selection of the Seoul International Pride Film Festival 2020.
Screening day: September 9 at 7:30 pm (Premiere Elements)
As We Like It, Taiwan
For Hong Kongers who miss travelling to Taiwan, there’s comic relief to be found in Hung-i Chen and Muni Wei’s retelling of one of the original romantic comedies, Shakespeare’s As You Like It. The choice of an all-female cast serves to put patriarchal ideas and practices under the spotlight, whether in Elizabethan England, or modern-day Taiwan.
The movie was part of the Official Selection of the Big Screen Competition at the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2021.
Screening day: September 9 at 7:10 pm (Premiere Elements)
Wrath of Desire, Taiwan
This year’s Director in Focus at the festival is Taiwan’s Zero Chou, whose growing body of work about her country’s LGBTQ+ community has won her awards and praise from around the world. As the title suggests, Wrath of Desire is an exploration of the sometimes violent force with which desire can drive our actions and shape our lives.
Part-romance, part-thriller, it follows the story of the illegitimate daughter of a presidential candidate whose night of passion with the woman prosecuting her for manslaughter changes both of their lives. Also showing over the course of the festival are the three films that make up her Tongzhi Trilogy from the early 2000s, all of them critically acclaimed.
Screening days: September 17 at 7:35 pm (Broadway Cinematheque), September 19 at 3:20 pm (The One), September 23 at 8:00 pm (Hong Kong Arts Centre) which includes a Q&A section
Swan Song, USA
Flamboyant and wilful Pat Pitsenbarger is coaxed out of retirement and his small-town nursing home to take on one last job: to fulfil the dying wish of a former client and coiffure her hair for her final journey. Along the way, Pat, played with relish by Udo Kier, relives his past with old friends and re-discovers his joie de vivre.
The showings will be the Asian premiere for Swan Song. Jennifer Coolidge, whose recent performance in The White Lotus has won plaudits, also stars.
Screening days: September 12 at 5:30 pm (The One), September 21 at 9:40 pm (Broadway Cinematheque), September 24 at 9:55 pm (Movie Movie Cityplaza)
Part of the Panorama series, which presents LGBTQ films from 12 countries around the world, Beyto is another Asian premiere for this year’s festival.
Based on a novel by award-winning writer Yusuf Yesilöz, it tells the story of a popular and talented swimmer, Beyto who is living life to the full as he falls in love with his handsome coach. But when his parents attempt to marry him off, he must choose between his heart or going along with his family’s conservative wishes.
Screening days: September 13 at 7:50 pm (Palace IFC), September 18 at 5:15 pm (Broadway Cinematheque), September 22 at 7:55 pm (Movie Movie Citypaza)
The 32nd Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival take place from September 11–25. You can explore the full lineup at www.hklgff.hk