For 28 years, the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, one of the oldest LGBT film festivals in Asia, has been programming some of the best LGBT from around the world. This year, this film offers a diverse array including world premieres of Hong Kong films, docs revolving around subjects from pregnant men to gay sauna janitors, more transgender films than ever before and award-winning films from France, China, Taiwan, The Philippines, Canada, USA and many other countries. Of course, we recommend you watch all of them but if we had to choose ten, here is what our top ten would be.
The opening films this year are both from France, KISS ME! and 120 BEATS PER MINUTE. For the lesbian opening film, KISS ME!, Océane Rose Marie wrote, directed and stars in the comedic film. (She will be in attendance for the screening and at the opening party as well.) She plays Oceanrosemarie, a woman navigating her crazy life of ex-girlfriends, crazy family members and falling for a beautiful photographer named Cecile.
FREAK SHOW, directed by Trudie Styler (wife of musician, Sting) is one of the two closing films for this year. It stars Bette Midler as the mother of Billy Bloom, a boy living a fabulous life in Connecticut until he is sent to live with his father in the conservative South. Even in the conservative south, he still is his fabulous self, fighting for the misunderstood in his new school and even running for the title of Homecoming Queen. The film also stars Abigail Breslin and Laverne Cox.
DRIVER, a Thai film from the director of LOVE NEXT DOOR and it’s sequel, is all about secrets and what they can do to a relationship. Kade is married to Tae, and after Tae disappears after a business trip to Korea, she discovers about her husband that will majorly affect her. Cast and crew will be in attendance for the screenings on the September 22 and 23.
THE WOUND has to be one of the must see films of all of the film festival, if you have to see only one, watch this one. A film from South Africa that is in the vein of MOONLIGHT, following the tale of a worker named Xolani who accompanies the boys of a village on a journey to an initiation into manhood. It is a tribal ritual that is not supposed to be discussed or even depicted on film. John Trengrove, in his feature film directorial debut, examines repressed sexuality and masculinity.
We all know the TALES OF THE CITY series of books written by Armistead Maupin, but do how much do we really know about the author? THE UNTOLD STORIES OF ARMISTEAD MAUPIN is a documentary that looks at the author’s history, from his being born to a conservative family in the Southern USA to his life as a gay rights pioneer and leading LGBT author.
HEARTSTONE is an award-winning film from Iceland that looks at repressed sexuality and the friendship between two boys as they journey in life from boyhood to manhood. The film won the Queer Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival and for good reason.
The short film programs never disappoint and this year, there are six different short films programs to watch, including the Asia Pacific Queer Film Festival Alliance Shorts programs that includes two new local films having their world premiere, LOSING SIGHT OF A LONGED PLACE and AFTER ERECTION (the filmmakers will be in attendance). In the International Short Docs, included is a documentary on Michael Glatze and Bennet (the subjects of the film I AM MICHAEL) and meeting after years and discussing where they are now. There are also Boys and Girls Shorts, Queer Shorts and a Transgender Shorts program.
An charming Irish dramedy, A DATE FOR MAD MARY revolves around newly released from prison Mary as she hunts down a wedding date for her best friend’s wedding after her friend refuses her a plus one because she said that Mary could not find a date anyway. Director Darren Thornton adapted the film from the stage play “10 Dates for Mad Mary”.
SEVENTEEN is Monja Art’s feature film debut that deals with small town love in Austria between two teenage girls. Paula is secretly in love with her best friend Charlotte and she must decide whether she should follow her feelings and tell Charlotte and keep them bottles inside.
A WOMB OF THEIR OWN is a documentary that gives on what it is like to be a pregnant trans man. Cyn Lubow sits down with six masculine-identified people to discuss their pregnancies, their births and their chest feeding experiences.
Those that got to see the film HENRY GAMBLE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY at HKLGFF 2015 will have a chance to watch the director Stephen Cone’s new film, PRINCESS CYD, at this year’s festival. 16 year-old Cyd is visiting her aunt in Chicago over the summer to escape her depressive, single father. It is there that she falls for a girl in her neighborhood.
See you at the theater.
Word: Russell Boaz