Asia Pride Section
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The Asia Pride Section aims to reorient ourselves through Asian film and to introduce new Asian directors to the public
The Asian Pride Section curates queer films produced in Asia that demonstrate originality and sophisticated execution. In doing so, we aim to provide a platform for the stories of sexual minorities living in Asia and to also spotlight promising new and young Asian directors.
This year, Taiwan paved the way by being the first Asian nation to institutionalize same-sex marriage, and Japan, along with many other leading Asian countries, has demonstrated growing interest for the rights and lives of sexual minorities, thus exposing a long-awaited conversation. The Asian Pride Section showcases work that demonstrates such striding changes in the social atmosphere, both through narrative subject matter and cinematic style.
The most noticeable recent transformation in the ever-evolving world of Asian queer cinema is that, instead of the stories being told through the direct perspectives of the sexual minority individuals, we observe their lives from third-person perspectives. Another shift is that these sexual minorities are no longer escaping their oppressive environments to find utopias elsewhere, but are taking bold stands to improve the very institutions and social norms that have oppressed them. Through the means of same-sex marriage, gender affirmation surgery, child adoption, surrogate mothers and alternative family structures, the protagonists of these Asian queer films are demonstrating that it is possible to lead dignified lives in their own hometowns, without being ostracized by their locals.
Let us bring your attention first to Close-Knit, whose director, Naoko Ogigami is one familiar to Korea’s audiences thanks to Kamome Diner. Close-Knit is about the events that unfold when a young girl stays at her uncle’s home, where he lives with his transgender girlfriend. It subtly proposes questions regarding alternative family structures, and was praised for its artistic merit at the Berlin Film Festival, where it was awarded the Teddy Special Jury prize. The film has also garnered attention for Toma Ikuta’s transformative performance as the transgender Rinko, a particularly noteworthy fact considering that the actor is part of Japan’s foremost entertainment company, Johnny & Associates.
This year’s Asia Pride section displays the recent surge in Southeast Asian queer films.
Father is a Thai feature length production that confidently captures the process of a long-term gay couple adopting and raising a little boy. It drives home the message that the qualification for a parent is not biological parenthood, but love.
Cambodian feature length queer film, Poppy Goes to Hollywood is about a son who learns to understand his father, whom he formerly loathed for abandoning their family and pursuing a new happy life as a transgender woman. The film maintains a distinct rhythm with its use of humor to handle a challenging topic.
The Seoul Pride Film Festival is a permanent member of the Asia Pacific Queer Film Festival Alliance, and we are grateful for the Alliance’s contributions in enriching our Asia Pride section. Since its launching in 2015, the Alliance has been broadening its scope of its activities by, for example, establishing a Best Short Picture Prize, which awards 1000USD to its recipient. Our film festival selects and screens films recommended by members of this alliance. We present to you, nominees for this year’s award: Any Other Day from India, Cocoon from China and The Right Bank from Taiwan.
This continuum of creative and flawlessly executed cinema provides audiences once again with a captivating Asia Pride section.
○ Poppy Goes to Hollywood Redux
○ Contestant #4
○ Still (Hilom)
○ The Opposite House
○ The Right Bank
○ Any Other Day
○ Aren’t We Here For Each Other