Posts Tagged ‘gay pride’

Interview with Beijing Queer Film Festival’s Yang Yang

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011


By Ariella Tai

Beijing Queer Film Festival, a biennial celebration of gay, lesbian and queer films held biannually, recently enjoyed its tenth year running. On Artspace China, Christen Cornell conducts an interview with the festival’s executive director, Yang Yang. Yang has been with the festival since the beginning, providing an essential space for the queer and allied communities of Beijing despite the fear of government pressure. She observes, “…we always have an audience. It’s funny, other film festivals spend all their time and energy on promotion, while our biggest concern is keeping the festival quiet so as not to inform the police. But then once the festival begins, the people come. The people just come naturally.” The overall curator of the 2011 program, Chinese-American filmmaker Doris Yeung, however, held the underground nature of the Chinese LGBT scene in comparison to America 25 years ago. Cornell muses, “this was an exciting thing, as if the underground nature of China’s queer community gives it extra energy.”

This year’s festival was able to profile prestigious filmmakers such as Barbara Hammer and Mickey Chen. The international section of the program was guest-curated by the Mumbai International Queer Film Festival and this year premiered a new section focusing on the work of overseas Chinese filmmakers. Many of these films do not only focus on queer issues, but on other questions of identity. This open environment and encouragement to learn and reflect seems to be what draws many young people to the screenings.

CC: I wonder if your festival provides an opportunity for all kinds of young Chinese people to express their ideas about sexuality. I met a number of young, straight people at the opening last night and they seemed very curious to learn and think about sexuality generally, without feeling the need to ‘fit in’.

YY: That’s one of the aims of the festival. If only I could have attended a festival like this when I was a teenager – something that showed me there were so many different possibilities, so many different choices and ways of being – I would have been so much happier.