Queer East Film Festival 2021

Now in its second edition, London’s Queer East Film Festival showcases rarely-seen queer films from East and Southeast Asia. The festival aims to amplify voices of Asian communities in the UK who have often been excluded from mainstream discourse. This year’s selection includes 37 feature films, an array of shorts and moving image works from 15 different countries. A mix of classics and premieres, the screenings will be accompanied by filmmaker introductions and Q&As, while there will also be online panel discussions running throughout the festival.

This year’s festival opens with the UK premiere of Daughters, the 2020 directorial debut of Japanese filmmaker Hajime Tsuda. It closes with the multi award-winning Dear Tenant, from Taiwanese director Yu-Chieh Cheng. Between these two impressive bookends, there are two major strands, centring on films from Japan and Taiwan.

Focus Japan is a ten-film programme that looks at queer representations in Japanese cinema. Included in this is a must-see double bill from acclaimed director Nagisa Oshima: Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, which features David Bowie, and the rarely-screened 1999 film Gohatto.

In Focus Taiwan, the highlight must surely be the UK premiere of Days, which was unveiled at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival. The latest work from auteur Tsai Ming-Liang, this meditative, largely dialogue-free tale stars Lee Kang-sheng and Anong Houngheuangsy as two men engaged in a transactional relationship. Also showing will be the UK premiere of Zero Chou’s Secrets of 1979 (2021), all set in Taiwan’s martial law period.

Other highlights include a 20th anniversary screening of Stanley Kwan’s Lan Yu, one of the most iconic gay films in the Mandarin-speaking world, presented here in its newly restored version. Also playing is South Korea’s award-winning drama Moonlit Winter and drag comedy Number 1 from Singapore.

With screenings held across London, in cinemas ranging from the Genesis to the Horse Hospital, the festival will also be playing in various UK cities including Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield and Nottingham across the autumn. Full details and dates to be announced soon.

The Queer East Film Festival runs from September 15th to September 26th. Click here for more details.

James Mottram