Asia’s gay film scene opens Tokyo up to brave new experiences
Now in its fourth year, the Asian Queer Film Festival is an eye-opener for anyone who has thought that “queers” have a bad time in their quest for love and freedom in Asia.
The AQFF is a small, two-weekend affair that opens July 8 at the Cinemart Roppongi theater in Tokyo and runs until Sunday, picking up again the following weekend.
With a total of six days and 26 programs (consisting of shorts and features), the AQFF may not have much notoriety, but it has amassed a staunch fan base and helped spread the news that Asia may be less uptight about liberal/gay issues than many of us had thought.
The Southeast Asian film industry clearly has an advantage over the north – Thailand makes up for a lack of big-budget films with great story lines and a relaxed, open attitude toward gay sexuality. Saratsawadee Wongsomphet’s “Yes or No, So I Love You” is a case in point: An honest and insightful depiction of lesbian relationships at a Bangkok university, the story brims with girlish audacity and the confusing but joyous sensations that make up youthful desire.
It helps, of course, that the cuteness level of its cast could sink the frontline battalions of AKB48. The girls here are stylish without effort, willfully separating themselves from both commercialism and male-dictated standards of femininity.