Films #209-212: Queer Asia shorts

Watched on: 15 July 2016
(Rainbow Reel Tokyo – 3/6)
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

The third film I watched at the film festival this year, back in July, was actually a series of short movies. The title on the program also had the name of the pan-Asian organisation that chooses movies from other LGBT film festivals across Asia, but it’s an alphabet soup acronym, and I can’t remember it offhand.

There were four shorts, and there wasn’t a common theme to them aside from being set in Asia or with Asian characters. I’ll write about each one individually, as I did with the other short compilations I watched.

As with the other short films I watched, these were all cinematically sound, and their use of cinematography, including imagery and soundscape, was more tightly controlled, so even for the movies I didn’t enjoy so much, the movies themselves were generally high quality to watch.

the-fox-exploits-the-tigers-mightFilm #209: The Fox Exploits the Tiger’s Might (2015)
director: Lucky Kuswandi
language: Indonesian
length: 24 minutes
This movie weirded me out a bit. It’s about a bromance between two characters that gets a bit out of hand, and acquires an animalistic or abusive sexual aspect, along with voyeurism and other parts also in play. It’s also plainly about class, though, and the sexual dominance part reflected that one character is socially dominant over the other.

The atmosphere was evocative of hot Indonesian summers, and the images it provides are nice. But I felt that the “gay” character here was painted as creepy and not in a good light. Sorry, not here for that.

sowolFilm #210: Sowol Road (2014)
aka: Sowol-gil (소월길)
director: Shin Jong-hun
language: Korean
length: 25 minutes
This is about a middle-aged woman selling her body on Sowol Road, a notorious street in Seoul for prostitution. She helps a young transgender girl who’s in the same predicament, who was about to be beaten up by a client. Later it turns out the girl is dating the woman’s son, by coincidence, and she gets a slap in the face. I didn’t get why that was – is it because she’s trans? In any case, she ends up saving the older woman from the same client, out for revenge, and all is forgiven.

The film was gritty and I felt sympathy for the characters – aside from that scene in the middle that confused me. It draws light on Seoul’s undertrodden trans community, and I think that’s good. However, perhaps because I’m not the target audience, I wasn’t as interested in this movie as the others.

When-Mom-VisitsFilm #211: When Mom Visits (2015)
director: Chang Chiung-wen
language: Mandarin and English (a rare bilingual film)
length: 19 minutes
This is about a girl whose mother flies to America from Taiwan for a surprise visit, which is a bit of a problem because her girlfriend is lying in bed with her. They have an argument, and her girlfriend storms off, saying she has “principles” and won’t date someone who’s in the closet.

What follows is a lot of angst from the main character, who eventually comes out to her mother, but not before being very self-involved – she’s called out for it by another character who makes her realize that her mother also has a secret relationship going on. I was a little disappointed by both the girls in the original couple – one being self-involved, and the other being unable to comprehend that coming out is difficult for people. I was disappointed that they didn’t get back together in the end, I guess, because they’d been really cute together at the beginning.

IGTSNBBFilm #212: I Go to School Not by Bus (2015)
aka: Fongsi (放肆)
director: Morris Ng
language: Cantonese
length: 35 minutes
This film was the longest of the bunch, and unfortunately the video quality was noticeably lower than the other movies. It’s available on Youtube, and perhaps better seen on there than the big screen. It’s a Hong Kong movie about two high school teenagers, one apparently out and proud, which is nice to see in Asia at all. The school they go to is pretty homophobic and Catholic, though, which creates an easy conflict, and the other boy (the main character) is softly-spoken and artistic, more repressed in character. The relationship grows naturalistically, and was nice to see unfolding as the boy teaches the main character to run for a PE exam. Later he breaks his leg and the main character has to run for both of them.

The film was very melodramatic, overall, but it left me with a warm feeling and an overall good impression of the four-part series. There are enough laughs, as well, especially from the two girl classmates cheering them on awkwardly from the sidelines. And the ending was bittersweet. So out of the four, it was my favourite, although objectively the third one might be a better film.

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One Response to Films #209-212: Queer Asia shorts

  1. Pingback: Film #213: How to Win at Checkers (Every Time) (2015) | reuoq

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