Cui Zi’en Interview at 4th Beijing International Queer Film Festival

We found an interesting video on Danwei.org, a website about media, advertising and urban life in China, in which reporter Jeremy Goldkorn interviewed Yang Yang and Cui Zi’en, organizers of the 4th Beijing International Queer Film Festival, at the festival’s opening on June 17, 2009. In this candid and humorous conversation, two of China’s leading queer activists talked about the history of the festival since its initiation as a student group event in 2001, the subtlety around the terms “homosexual,” “comrade” (tong zhi), and “queer” (ku er)–the last two were used as euphemisms to bypass the official surveillance–and the improvements (or the lack thereof) in gay rights in China.

Cui Zi’en introduced his film Queer China, ‘Comrade’ China, a pioneering documentary “[bringing] together forty of the most influential people in the movement from the past 30 years.” The film, now available for purchase and rental through dGenerate Films, was the closing documentary of the festival and the opening night film of 2009’s ShanghaiPRIDE, China’s first ever LGBT pride festival.

Video can be accessed after the break.

Talking about the progress of the queer movement since the first festival in 2001, Cui Zi’en observed: “Amongst the populace there has been some greater freedoms for homosexuals, [including] the rise of grassroots associations and freedom of interaction between homosexuals. But at the government levels, in terms of government laws, policies, etc. there hasn’t been any change at all.”

Despite the workplace discrimination and family pressures still confronting the Chinese LGBT community, both organizers expressed optimism looking towards the future. Cui Zi’en predicted that in five years the Chinese queer community would enjoy open Gay Film Festivals, legitimate same-sex marriage, and the right to parade on the streets. Yang Yang focused her prediction on the festival itself, noting “If we go one step at a time, we can hope that there will be a fifth and sixth festival.” This kind of optimism, she said, is the only thing to “give us strength to keep trying.”

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