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Exploring the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival with “Suk Suk” director Ray Yeung
It’s been two years of dealing with a pandemic, and we’ve grown to adapt to the changes as we always do. But when our collective experiences have often been reduced to virtual “Netflix parties,” the opportunity to return to the cinema has never been more novel. To grip on the leather armrests as the anticipation builds, knock our head back in laughter over a random joke or hear tissues pulled out of pockets when the girl finally gets the girl – what’s more comforting than experiencing all of this together?
The Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (HKLGFF) is an annual affair that began 33 years ago. Now, this year, 28 feature films and four short programs have made their way from all across the world to shine triumphantly on the screens of our local cinemas from September 17 to October 1.
TMS sat down with the festival’s executive director, filmmaker Ray Yeung, to chat about the festival’s mission, LGBTQ+ representation in Hong Kong cinema and the distance we still have to go.
It all started with one cinema
When the first HKLGFF opened in 1989, same-sex sexual acts between males were still illegal, and the Hong Kong Arts Centre was the only place that screened the festival’s films. With box office concerns, the festival eventually came to a halt in 1997.
Having returned from the UK in 1999, Yeung recalls when he relaunched the film festival, thinking, “We have to have one, it’s a metropolitan city!” With the relaunch coinciding with Hong Kong’s handover in 1997, Yeung wanted to preserve normalcy in this space.
Much has changed since then, both in scale and audience reception. The movies have now expanded to mainstream cinemas, namely Broadway Cinematheque, MOViE MOViE Cityplaza, PREMIERE ELEMENTS, PALACE ifc and Golden Scene Cinema, allowing much more accessibility than before.