gay cinema and video


gay cinema and video
Long repressed as a ‘perversion imported from the West’ or a ‘mental disorder’, homosexuality (see homosexuality and tongzhi culture) could only be indirectly shown (Xie Jin’s Stage Sisters/ Wutai jiemei, 1965) or melodramatically represented (Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine/ Bawang bieji, 1993). Only a few recent independent/underground productions have started to articulate the voices and concerns of the queer community.
The first video documentary on the lives of homosexuals in mainland China was Comrades (Tongzhi, 1996), by Wang Feng and Gary Wu, who shortly after emigrated to the United States. Some heterosexually identified Sixth Generation directors (see Sixth Generation (film directors)) have produced challenging narrative images of homosexuality. Zhang Yuan’s East Palace, West Palace (Dong gong, Xigong, 1996) is the highly stylized mise en scène of the encounter between a straight policeman and the young gay writer he arrests.
Liu Bing jian’s Men Men Women Women (Nan Nan Nü Nü, 1999) casts a nonchalant, faux neo-realist look at the intertwining lives of five characters who turn out to be gay: a shy country youth, a repressed housewife and her best girlfriend, the editor of a queer fanzine and the anchor of gay radio station—the latter played by the film’s screenwriter, Cui Zi’en, a Beijing Film Academy professor and a major figure in the independent film scene and the homosexual (tongzhi) movement. In 2001, a young female documentarist, Li Yu, completed Fish and Elephant (Yu be daxiang), ‘the first Chinese lesbian underground feature’, that was shown in more than seventy international film festivals.
In 2001, Echo Y.Windy (Ying Weiwei) directed her first documentary video, The Box (Hezi), about a lesbian couple.
The first openly gay man to playfully represent homosexuality on film, Cui Zi’en, started directing digital features, Enter the Clowns (Choujue dengchang, 2001) and The Old Testament (Jiuyue, 2002). In December 2001, he organized the first gay and lesbian film festival in Beijing. Among the entries was Lan Yu (2001), a love story between two men, shot illegally in Beijing with independent Chinese financing by Hong Kong director Stanley Kwan.
Berry, Chris, Martin, Fran and Yue, Audrey (eds) (2003). Mobile Culture: New Media in Queer Asia. Durham: Duke University Press.
Martin, Fran (2003). ‘Perverse Utopia: Reading The River’. In idem, Situating Sexualities. Queer Representation in Taiwanese Fiction, Film and Public Culture. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 163–84 [on Tsai Mingliang].
Song, Hwee Li (2002). ‘Celluloid Comrades: Male Homosexuality in Chinese Cinema in the 1990s’. China Information 16.4: 68–88.
BÉRÉNICE REYNAUD

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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