Chinese NGOs turn out for queer cinema event

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On Feb 27, the 15th edition of Love Queer Cinema Week came to an end at the Beijing Institut Francais. The event began on Feb 16, with a screening of 74 independent films from 25 countries around the world.

During the movie week, a series of short films were organized into multiple screening groups with a diverse focus on queer identity, community development, kinship, intimate relationships, and life experiences across different cultures and social contexts. At the end of each set of screenings, directors were invited to answer audience questions both in person and online. In addition to Beijing, a sub-session of the cinema week also took place in Chengdu from Feb 16 to 19, with three more forums related to independent film production, queer family kinship, and life experiences in the post-Covid era.

Love Queer Cinema Week, also known as Beijing Queer Film Festival, originated from Peking University in 2001, and was formally founded by Cui Zien, a Chinese film director and professor at the Beijing Film Academy. The festival is considered the only grassroots film festival in China with a particular focus on gender and sexuality, and has earned an international reputation since joining the Panorama Program at the Berlin Film Festival in 2009.

The outbreak of the epidemic brought big challenges to China’s independent films. One volunteer from Love Queer Cinema Week said, “we planned to hold the festival last winter, but had to postpone it due to Covid-19.”

Despite its struggle to survive, Love Queer Cinema Week received big support from NGOs (known locally as social organizations) in China. According to the festival’s website, Chengdu Rainbow and BushDefinition have hosted the Chengdu-based Love Queer Cinema Week for seven years. Initiated by Chengdu Qingpu Social Work Service Center, Chengdu Rainbow is a community project dedicated to eliminating discrimination and improving the climate for Chinese queer people. Also rooted in Chengdu, BushDefinition is a non-profit organization run by young film lovers, with the aim of promoting indie culture in China.

Besides the above organizations, Love Queer Cinema Week was supported by a number of Chinese grassroots organizations, including Beijing Queer Chorus, New Asian Filmmakers Collective, Queer Comrades, Beijing LGBT Center, and Common Language. “We remain alive year after year thanks to the help, solidarity and support from many civil society groups and individuals,” said an introduction on the event’s website.

(Article photo: Bi Yidan)

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