Queer East Film Festival allows Showroom to ‘open up conversations about queer Asian heritage’

Written by Chelsea Cheetham

Trainee journalist at the University of Sheffield. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of cherrychumagazine.com.

Three films that celebrate Asian and LGBTQ+ communities, including a rare 35mm screening of the landmark film Hush!, will be screened in Sheffield, next week, as part of the Queer East Film Festival. 

The festival will include a tour of highlights from Queer East Film Festival, an LGBTQ+ festival that showcases rarely-seen queer cinema from East and Southeast Asia and seeks to amplify the voices of Asian communities in the UK, which continue to be silenced. 

 

Still from Dear Tenant directed by Yu Chieh Cheng. Photo: Courtesy of Showroom Cinema.

 

Global events in the past year, from Covid-19-related anti-Asian attacks to the Black Lives Matter movement, have once again reminded us how vital fair and authentic racial and sexual representation is for our society,” said Yi Wang, Queer East Festival Director and Programmer.

“I believe that film is one of the most direct and accessible mediums able to shine a light on issues and situations that people just weren’t aware of before,” he said. “By showing films that people might not otherwise get a chance to see, we can provide a platform for under-represented Asian and diasporic communities to share their history, stories and what it means to be Asian and queer today.”

Showcasing beauty and uniqueness

The festival is taking place in collaboration with the British Film Institute (BFI) which is working closely with the National Lottery-funded BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) to enable cinemas across the UK, such as Sheffield’s Showroom Cinema, to host special screenings and events for BFI Japan 2021: 100 Years of Japanese Cinema. 

The festival will give cinemas like the Showroom the opportunity to bounce back after the hard hitting national lockdowns, and to showcase the beauty and uniqueness of Asian LGBTQ+ cinema.

 

Watch the Queer East Film Festival 2021 trailer

 

From Friday 3 December to Wednesday 8 December, the Showroom Cinema will be screening a 35mm presentation of Hush!, a landmark Japanese LGBTQ+ film exploring debates around same-sex families and parenthood, for its 20th anniversary, as well as Dear Tenant, a heartfelt portrayal of unconditional love that explores whether, following the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2019, Taiwanese society is ready to accept families who dare to break with conventional forms

The screening of Dear Tenant will also feature an introduction to the film by its director Yu-Chieh Cheng. He has previously spoken about the erasure of LGBTQ+ voices in Asian cinema, saying he made this film “for all the people in society who carry on loving, and are determined to love, despite facing a lot of ignorance and misunderstanding from others”.

The final film set to be screened at the Showroom Cinema is Moonlit Winter which tells the story of a teenage daughter who finds a love letter addressed to her divorced mum; the pair then travel to find the sender of the letter, and unearth a secret, long-lost romance.

Rose Butler, Programme and Audience Development Coordinator at Showroom Cinema, expressed her personal love for the film.

“It’s beautifully photographed, with gorgeous snowy shots of Japan and wonderful central performances,” she said. “The focus on a past – but never forgotten – love, and the complex relationships between mothers and daughters really stood out for me.”

 

Still from Moonlit Winter directed by Lim Dae-hyung. Photo: Courtesy of Showroom Cinema.

 

Mr Wang explained why these three films were chosen to be screened as part of the festival: “Looking back at the LGBTQ+ movement, campaigning for legal recognition of same-sex families and protection for marriage equality have been focal points in the past years. 

“Therefore, our programme this year pays attention to ‘Family’ by selecting several films that centre on the family experience but simultaneously challenge conventional understandings of family kinship.”

‘Empowering marginalised voices’

As part of BFI’s Japan 2021: 100 Years of Japanese Cinema programme, The Showroom Cinema has had a strong East Asian programme since reopening in May after the second National UK lockdown, including a mini-season of Akira Kurosawa classics, and the Sheffield Loves Anime festival which took place earlier in November.

For the Akira Kurosawa mini season, the titles Seven Samurai and Throne of Blood were screened earlier in November, and Yojimbo, which tells the story of a masterless samurai (Toshiro Mifune), who arrives in a small town in the desolate countryside, where two competing crime lords are fighting for supremacy, is set to be screened this Sunday at 3.30pm. 

This year’s Sheffield Loves Anime festival, which took place from 19 November to 21 November in partnership with Anime LTD, was a success with both the afternoon of Japanese Themed games at the Treehouse Board Game Cafe and local graffiti artist Trik09’s anime character drawing workshop being fully booked. 

 

Graffiti artist Trik09 ahead of his drawing workshop for Sheffield Loves Anime.

 

Film’s screened over the duration of the weekend included the full length feature films A Silent Voice, Over The Sky and Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms. Director Loundraw also dove into the making of his first short film Summer Ghost with Jonathan Clements (Anime: A History) in a Director Q&A which was screened after the film. 

As participation in this year’s BFI Japan 2021: 100 Years of Japanese Cinema programme draws to a close for the Showroom Cinema, Ms Butler expressed why screening such events is so important: “By providing a platform for films that people might not otherwise get the chance to see, festivals like Queer East can provide a space for under-represented communities to share their history, stories and what it means to be Asian and part of the LGBTQ+ community today.”

“We really hope that by showing these films, we’re working to showcase and empower marginalised voices and open up conversations about queer Asian heritage.” 

With Yi Wang, Queer East Festival Director and Programmer, opening each screening, the Showroom Cinema will be showcasing the Queer East Film Festival from Friday 3 December to Wednesday 8 December, and will include showings of Hush!, Dear Tenant and Moonlit Winter

For the full list of screenings and ticket availability head to the Showroom Cinema website

Written by Chelsea Cheetham

Trainee journalist at the University of Sheffield. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of cherrychumagazine.com.

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