Queer East Festival 2023 announces nationwide tour for October – December

Queer East Festival 2023 announces nationwide tour for October – December

Queer East Festival 2023 nationwide tour takes place October to December in Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Liverpool, Belfast, Edinburgh, Leeds and more cities to be announced

Now in its fourth year, Queer East will return to cinemas around the UK in 2023 with another exciting nationwide tour which presents contemporary feature film and documentary with retrospective screenings, short films, artists’ moving image works, and a VR cinematic experience. Through an incredible programme of cinema and performance art, the festival will push boundaries and challenge expectations and labels commonly associated with queer communities. Queer East’s vital programme is sure to provoke, inspire and engage.

Following on from the main festival which took place 18 to 30 April 2023 in London, the nationwide tour spans October to December  across venues in Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Liverpool, Belfast, Edinburgh, Leeds and more to be announced, with a selection of cinematic highlights that were screened at the main festival.

This year’s festival features Focus Korea, a strand spanning from the 1960s to the present that revealed a surprisingly vibrant tradition of queer filmmaking across the decades in Korea, despite the country’s conservative social attitude to LGBTQ+ rights. And for this year’s tour, Queer East is proud to be screening the main festival’s closing Gala selection Home Ground (South Korea, 2022) in two cities. This poignant documentary is about Korea’s first lesbian bar, Lesbos. Since 1976 when women-only cafe Chanel was closed down after a baseless police raid, the city’s lesbian community had been left with nowhere to call their own… until Lesbos opened its doors in 1996. Home Ground is an affecting portrait of a woman determined to provide refuge for her city’s ever-expanding queer community, and is a vital piece of contemporary Korean LGBTQ+ filmmaking. This year’s ‘Focus Korea’ strand sought to highlight South Korea and provide audiences a chance to see a snapshot of the country’s diverse queer storytelling, and the tour is also proud to screen Peafowl (South Korea, 2022), in which Byun Sung-bin graduates from award-winning shorts to his feature film debut with a  compelling family drama about a transgender dancer who is forced to return to her rural hometown after the death of her father.

A huge hit at the Queer East opening Gala in April at BFI Southbank, audiences in Sheffield will have the opportunity to see hilarious high-camp comedy I Love You, Beksman (Philippines, 2022) on the big screen. From director Percival Intalan (Dementia, 2014; Born Beautiful, 2019) the film follows glamorous make-up artist and fashion designer Dali, who is assumed by his friends, colleagues, and queer family to be gay. But when Dali falls for beauty pageant queen Angel, he’s forced to finally come out as straight… the problem is, nobody believes him, not even Angel. Packed with music and laughter, I Love You, Beksman is a joyous and uplifting exploration of identity packed with fun performances from its ensemble cast, and with a charming and earnest lead in award-winning young actor Christian Bables.

The tour’s line-up further expands out of South Korea, encompassing contemporary and retrospective screenings, representing an extraordinary breadth of queer filmmaking that spans 60 years and seven countries. Let Me Hear it Barefoot (Japan, 2021) from director Kudo Riho (Orphans’ Blues, 2018) arrives in the UK after an impressive festival run and tells the story of Naomi, a student dropout, who befriends the happy-go-lucky Maki. As they begin to express their growing intimacy through rough play fighting, their actions acquire a hurtful intensity that threatens to overwhelm their relationship. What Happened to the Wolf? (Myanmar, 2022), is directed by Na Gyi (Mi, 2019), who fled the country after a warrant was issued for his arrest for participating in the civil disobedience movement following the 2021 coup d’état. The film brings together two hospital patients with different outlooks on society, who form a strong bond. 

Bad Women of China (China, 2022) is a raw and frank documentary that explores the lives and desires of three generations of Chinese women from filmmaker and activist He Xiaopei, who takes the audience on a journey from the 1920s through to the 2020s, documenting the experiences and desires of three generations of Chinese women, as they come to terms with political and social change. Heading back 60 years, The Love Eterne (Hong Kong, 1963) is a sumptuous opera film, in which maiden Chu Ying-Tai disguises herself as a boy in order to attend school. There she meets the dashing Liang Shan-Po, with whom she falls passionately in love. The Director Li Han-Hsiang also directed classics Diau Charn (1958) and The Kingdom and the Beauty (1959), and won the Golden Horse for Best Director for The Love Eterne in 1963. Also screening is Tsai Ming-Liang’s debut feature Rebels of the Neon God (Taiwan, 1992), a masterful exploration of urban alienation and sexual malaise, widely regarded as one of the best Taiwanese films of all time. Rebels of the Neon God captures a transformative moment in the city’s history, as the decaying architecture of the nationalist era gives way to technological modernisation, video game arcades, and shiny new shopping malls. Foregrounding themes of queer desire, the film introduced cinemagoers to Tsai’s signature minimalist style.

SHORTS PROGRAMME (MANCHESTER ONLY)

Exploring the queer experience in all its myriad forms, Queer East presents a truly diverse selection of thematically linked short films in Manchester.

All About My Mother

A collection of short films that explore the nuances of the mother figure within LGBTQ+ families. With raw emotions and tenderness, these films investigate the complex emotional terrain of these intergenerational relationships. From a mourning mother’s attempt to rediscover her son, to a queer filmmaker turning the camera towards his family, the stories offer a glimpse into the struggles, triumphs and enduring love that shape the intricate bonds between mothers and their queer kids.

Titles: Will You Look at Me (Dir. Huang Shuli, China, 2022), Skin Can Breathe (Dir. Chheangkea, US, Cambodia, 2022), Fictions (Dir, Alice Charlie Liu, Canada, 2022), Rising Sun (Dir. Cheng Ya-chih, Taiwan, 2018), Fishbowl (Dir. Jacqueline Chan, US, 2021), A Good Mother (Dir. Lee Yu-jin, South Korea, 2022)

ARTISTS’ MOVING IMAGE PROGRAMME (LIVERPOOL ONLY)

Queer East’s Artists’ Moving Image Programmes present a boundary-pushing presentation featuring cutting-edge experimental works which confront, challenge and subvert, which audiences in Liverpool will be able to see as the festival collaborates with Homotopia.

Alien Body, Human Dreams (Programmed by April Lin) is a series of cinematic investigations that centre the body as a potent site of hybridity, rejecting false divisions of man/woman, human/animal/alien, and self/other to construct their own embodied and multifaceted ways of being. Artists in this programme purposefully employ queering as a technique to misread, re-appropriate, and puncture the systems of power projected onto the body. In these works by queer Southeast and East Asian filmmakers, we meet a speculative reality where human body parts are sold in food trucks and witness a dance-fight between a lion dancer and a contemporary dancer. Bodyhacking, ritualising, and ceremonialising is used to knead cosmologies, folding knowledge in upon themselves.

Titles: to boyhood, i never knew him (Dir. Trâm Anh Nguyễn, Vietnam & Canada, 2022), Longing for the Sun to Set Upwards (Dir. Jao San Pedro, Philippines, 2022), Native beast (Dir. Aileen Ye, Netherlands, 2022), Disease of Manifestation (Dir. Tzu An Wu, Taiwan, 2011), Yummy Body Truck (Dir. Noam Youngrak Son, Netherlands, 2021), BXBY (Dir. Soojin Chang, UK, 2022), Garden Amidst the Flame (Natasha Tontey, Indonesia, 2022)

VR PRESENTATION (EDINBURGH ONLY)

After a sold-out run in 2022, Queer East is collaborating with Edinburgh Summerhall on a VR cinematic presentation: In the Mist (Dir. Chou Tung-Yen, Taiwan, 2020). In a dim-lit room filled with mist emerge blurred figures of men, tasting desire and experiencing loneliness. Entering a fantasised gay sauna through a VR headset, you are transported to a forbidden zone, a state between dreaming and awakening, a place in which you gaze at someone and are gazed at by them. Theatre, film and new media director Chou Tung-Yen revisits an often-unspoken life experience of gay communities and cultures, exploring this male environment through a poetic lens to speculate on the diverse kinds of love that motivate desire. In The Mist is a hallucinatory and explicit VR experience that is not to be missed.

TOUR SCHEDULE

Cambridge (in collaboration with Cambridge Film Festival)

– 23 October – Home Ground at Arts Picturehouse

-25 October – Home Ground at Arts Picturehouse

Manchester

– 2 November – Peafowl at HOME

– 3 November – All About My Mother at esea contemporary

– 4 November – Rebels of the Neon God at HOME

Nottingham

– 6 November – Bad Women of China at Broadway

– 15 November – Rebels of the Neon God at Broadway

Sheffield

– 11 November – Bad Women of China at Showroom Workstation

– 13 November – I Love You Beksman at Showroom Workstation

– 16 November – Let Me Hear it Barefoot at Showroom Workstation

– 20 November – Peafowl at Showroom Workstation

– 23 November – Rebels of the Neon God at Showroom Workstation

Liverpool (in collaboration with Homotopia)

– 21 November – Alien Body, Human Dreams at FACT

Belfast

– 19 November – What Happened to the Wolf at Queen’s Film Theatre

– 25 November – Peafowl at Queen’s Film Theatre

– 26 November – Rebels of the Neon God at Queen’s Film Theatre

Edinburgh

– Date TBC – In the Mist: VR Presentation at Edinburgh Summerhall

– More films TBA

Leeds

– Date TBC – Rebels of the Neon God at Hyde Park Picture House

– Date TBC – Peafowl at Hyde Park Picture House

Queer East Festival 2023 nationwide tour takes place October to December in Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Liverpool, Belfast, Edinburgh, Leeds and more cities to be announced

With the support of the BFI, awarding funds from the National Lottery in order to bring this project to more audiences across the UK.

Please keep an eye on the Queer East Festival website for further announcements: https://queereast.org.uk/

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