Queer East Film Festival is back in hybrid form and here all season!

Until January 2021, LGBTQ+ films from East and Southeast Asia will be showing at cinemas in London, Manchester, Nottingham, and Bristol, and online for audiences across the UK. Film fans in Lockdown won’t be locked out, as Queer East is offering a number of online premieres and other exciting virtual events this year, in collaboration with the Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival, Barbican Cinema’s Forbidden Colours programme, Scottish Queer International Film Festival, and Taiwan Film Festival Edinburgh.

At Lesflicks, we’re thrilled to celebrate queer life, love, and resistance in Asia, where LGBTQ+ people face significant legal and social obstacles. We can’t overstate the value of these rarely-seen stories, and in showcasing the “diverse identities, cultures, and heritages of Asian and diasporic communities who have often been excluded from mainstream discourse in the UK.” In keeping with our mission to amplify LBTQ+ stories on screen, we’ve selected the films at the Queer East Film Festival that do just that.

Here are Lesflicks’ Queer East picks!

SISTERHOOD (UK PREMIERE)

A woman returns to Macau and looks back at the intense relationship she had with a massage parlour colleague in Tracy Choi’s haunting melodrama. Macau-raised orphan Sei returns to her birthplace after 15 years in Taiwan, still guilt-ridden after the abrupt break-up of her relationship with her best friend Ling. Sei revisits her past and slowly realises that the emotions Ling felt for her may have been romantic. Choi adeptly mirrors the complex relationship between the two women with the handover of Macau back to China. All the performances in this female-focused drama are excellent, especially from Malaysian-born Fish Liew as Sei. Choi’s film won the audience award at the Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival.

Screening online NOW until 5 Nov at Barbican Cinema On Demand.

TRACEY

This pioneering transgender drama from Hong Kong tells the story of 51-year-old Tung Tai-hung (Philip Keung), who seems to be living an ideal life, with both a successful business and a doting wife, Anne (Kara Wai). But after being notified of a school friend’s sudden death and reuniting with an old pal, Brother Darling (Ben Yuen), a veteran Cantonese opera actor who specialises in playing female roles, Tung’s past resurfaces. He is confronted with his deepest secret: that he is, in fact, a woman trapped in a man’s body. Caught between his duties as a family man and his innermost desires, he struggles to determine the right thing to do. Jun Li’s multi-award-winning debut feature tells a powerful story of identity and acceptance.

Screening at Riverside Studios, 8 Nov, 5pm. 

SPIDER LILIES

Spider Lilies explores the ambiguous relationship between two women: Jade, an 18-year-old webcam model, and Takeko, a tattoo artist. When Jade visits Takeko’s studio, she is entranced by the image of the spider lily on Takeko’s arm. She soon discovers that they shared an intense and troubling experience in the past, and a series of tragic events unfolds. Blending the real and the virtual, this early work from acclaimed director Zero Chou uses the tattoo as a metaphor for the women’s broken childhoods, traumatic memories, and their hidden desires for one another. Winner of the Teddy Award for Best Feature Film at the 2007 Berlinale, Spider Lilies is one of the most iconic lesbian-themed films to emerge from East Asia.

Screening at Broadway Nottingham, 18 Nov, 5:15pm.

CATCH THE LIGHT

A teenage girl who is visually impaired finds it difficult to start a relationship, but things change when she falls in love with her friend. With support from Lotus Visual Productions.

Screening at Lexi Cinema and Online as part of Brent 2020, now expected to take place in early 2021.

Let us know which films you enjoyed at Queer East Film Festival 2020, and #AmplifyLesbianFilm on social media by telling us your favourite East and Southeast Asian LBQ+ films!