Cover Here are the best Asian LGBTQ movies to watch this Pride Month (Photo: Courtesy of Mubi)

From South Korea’s ‘The Handmaiden’ to Taiwan’s ‘Your Name Engraved Herein’, here are the best Asian LGBTQ+ movies to watch during Pride Month

With Hong Kong relaxing its social distancing rules, we can expect more events coming up to lead the Pride Month celebrations in June. And one of the best ways to celebrate the occasion is to watch some inspiring LGBTQ+ movies.

Ahead, we're listing the best Asian LGBTQ+ movies to watch during Pride Month. Whether it’s from South Korea, India or Taiwan, these movies have been lauded for portraying themes including gender identity, sexual expression and queer relationships.

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Happy Together (1997), Hong Kong

This 1997 classic by Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai is regarded as one of the best LGBTQ+ films in the New Queer Cinema movement.

It follows Lai (Tony Leung) and his boyfriend Ho (Leslie Cheung) as they arrive in Argentina from Hong Kong, hoping for a better life. Soon, their relationship becomes rocky. Lai meets Chang (Chen Chang) and begins to have a change of heart.

See also: M+ Cinema Opens with a Wong Kar-Wai Classic This June

Suk Suk (2019), Hong Kong

Suk Suk, which means uncle in Cantonese, is also known by its English title, Twilight’s Kiss. This critically acclaimed movie by Ray Yeung tells the story of two married gay men in their twilight years.

Pak (Tai Bo) is a 70-year-old taxi driver unwilling to retire. One day, He meets Hoi (Ben Yuen), a retired 65-year-old single father. Despite being both married, their encounter sparks a desire long suppressed.

See also: These Hong Kong Drag Queens Are Empowering the City’s LGBTQ Community

Rainbow’s Sunset (2018), Philippines

This Filipino drama directed by Joel Lamangan won 11 awards at the Metro Manila Film Festival in 2018, the biggest winner of the year.

Rainbow’s Sunset revolves around the 84-year-old Ramon Estrella (Eddie Garcia), who came out to his children so that he can take care of his ill lover. He becomes torn between his duty to his family and to his true love.

Read also: Pride And Equality: The Plight Of The Filipino LGBTQIA+

Billie and Emma (2018), Philippines

Billie and Emma is a coming-of-age LGBTQ+ story directed by Samantha Lee in her sophomore feature. Set in the mid-1990s, the movie centres around two teenage girls Billie (Zar Donato) and Emma (Gabby Padilla).

Billie is sent from Manila to a remote town where her father hopes she will learn not to be a lesbian. There, she meets Emma and the two fall in love. Their romance starts to get complicated when Emma finds out that she is pregnant.

The Handmaiden (2016), South Korea

The Handmaiden is a South Korean erotic psychological thriller directed by Park Chan-wook. It is inspired by the 2002 novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. In the Korean adaptation, director Park changed the setting from the Victorian era to Korea under the Japanese occupation. The movie competed for the Palme d’Or and Queer Palm at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

Lady Izumi Hideko (Kim Min-hee) hires a handmaiden Nam Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri) to help her. Unknown to the noble lady, the maid is in fact a pickpocket hired by a swindler count (Ha Jung-woo), looking to cheat the lady of her wealth. But things don’t go as planned as the two women form a relationship.

Read also: 30 New Korean Dramas You Should Watch in 2022

Joyland (2022), Pakistan

Joyland recently made history at the 75th Cannes Film Festival as the first Pakistani film to be selected as an official entry. It took home two prizes: Un Certain Regard Jury Prize and the Queer Palm award. It is being praised for tackling gender and sexuality issues and having transgender actress Alina Khan as its lead.

Directed by Saim Sadiq in his debut feature, the movie follows the youngest son of a patriarchal family in Pakistan. He is expected to continue his family’s line by producing a baby boy with his wife. Instead, he joins an erotic dance theatre where he falls in love with the troupe’s director who is a transgender woman.

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Love of Siam (2007), Thailand

Love of Siam received critical acclaim upon its release in Thailand with critics calling the film “groundbreaking” for being one of the first Thai movies to discuss teenagers’ sexuality.

The multi-layered romantic drama begins when childhood friends Tong (Mario Maurer) and Mew (Witwisit Hirunwongkul) meet in Siam. The two boys are polar opposites, Tong is popular and outgoing while Mew is quiet. But the two later discover that they have unexpected feelings for each other.

Fire (1996), India

Fire is an Indian Canadian romantic film in 1996 and is the first instalment of director Deepa Mehta’s Elements trilogy. Loosely based on Ismat Chughtai’s 1942 story Lihaaf (The Quilt), the movie was lauded for being one of the first Indian movies to feature a lesbian relationship.

The critically acclaimed movie revolves around two married Indian women, Sita (Nandita Das) and Radha (Shabana Azmi). But their husbands choose not to be intimate with them. The two form their own passionate relationship.

Your Name Engraved Herein (2020), Taiwan

Your Name Engraved Herein became the talk of the town when it was released globally on Netflix. The Taiwanese romantic drama is the highest-grossing LGBTQ+ movie in the country’s history as well as its most popular movie in 2020.

It takes place in the 1980s when martial law ended in Taiwan. Two young students A-han (Edward Chen) and Birdy (Wang Po Te) are studying at an all-boys Catholic school. A-han befriends Birdy, a new student as the two share a common love for music. Later, they go on a trip to Taipei and become closer. But despite their mutual attraction to each other, they remain hesitant to act on it. Things become more complicated when the school introduces a co-educational system.

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Midnight Swan (2020), Japan

Midnight Swan is a Japanese movie released in 2020. It received nine nominations at the 44th Japan Academy Film Prize and took home Picture of the Year and Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for Tsuyoshi Kusanagi.

The movie tells the story of Nagisa (Kusanagi), a transgender woman. Ostracised by society, she leaves Hiroshima for Tokyo and starts working as a dancer in a nightclub. Her niece, Ichika (Misaki Hattori) is a middle school student neglected by her mother. She moves to Tokyo and lives with Nagisa, who was initially reluctant to take care of another person. But soon enough, she starts to feel what it’s like to be a “mother”.

See also: 12 Must-Watch Japanese Dramas on Netflix

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