Available in : Vietnamese
February 13, 2021
Pride month is not quite here yet but Valentine’s day is close! So why not support LGBTQ communities at the same time? During Tet, let’s take a break and binge-watch some movies from countries around Asia featuring gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer characters playing key roles.
Directed by Park Chan-wook
One of the best Asian films featuring an LGBT storyline. Based on the Victorian-era novel Fingersmith by British author Sarah Waters, the story begins with a young pickpocket, Nam Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri), who has been selected to help a crook (Ha Jung-woo pretending to be a count) seduce a wealthy heiress. The first twist among many comes when Lady Hideko reveals she is more interested in her new handmaiden than the count.
Directed by Momoko Andô
This wistful romance sees glum college student Haru (Hikari Mitsushima) ditch her boorish boyfriend and embraces her real identity as a lesbian woman. Once Haru is propositioned in a coffee shop by peppy prosthetic-limb maker Riko (Eriko Nakamura), it’s not long before the pair are feverishly texting each other trying to determine if this is the real deal.
The Wedding Banquet
Directed by Ang Lee
Ang Lee, the first non-white director to win the best director at the Oscars for Brokeback Mountain, also made 1993’s The Wedding Banquet. A romantic comedy, the film centers on Gao Wai-tung, a Taiwanese immigrant in America who is dating a man. Gao’s family is unaware of his sexuality and is pressing him to marry and start a family of his own. To get his relatives off his back, and with his partner’s blessing, Gao agrees to marry a poor Chinese lady in need of a green card. The plan goes awry when Gao’s family decides to visit to celebrate the occasion and he has to pile lie on top of lie to meet his parents’ expectations.
Blue Gate Crossing
Directed by Yee Chin –Yen
A gentle Taiwanese drama from 2002, Blue Gate Crossing is a coming-of-age story about a young girl named Meng who develops feelings for Lin, her female classmate. The drama unfolds in the shape of a love triangle as Lin asks Meng to pass a love letter to a boy that she likes – only for the boy to take a greater interest in Meng.
Directed by Ray Yeung
Ray Yeung’s drama was awarded best film at the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards and has since picked up several awards elsewhere. The story is a rare one, focusing on the lives of two elderly men. Although both are homosexual, Suk Suk shows how they have spent their lives hiding this aspect of themselves, marrying women, and constructing ordinary families. Now retired, and following a brief encounter, they consider the possibilities of a life together: the happiness it could bring as well as the scorn it may attract from others.
Thua Me Con Di (Goodbye Mother)
Directed by Trinh Dinh Le Minh
Goodbye Mother is as bold as it is introspective in its exploration of homosexuality in contemporary Vietnam. After staying several years in the States, Van returns home to Saigon for the moving of his late father’s grave. Tagging along is his boyfriend, Ian, who arrives unannounced, masquerading as a friend on vacation. Ian, however, is just one of the many secrets Van has been keeping from his family.
Directed by Wong Kar-wai
Probably the most well-known Asian LGBTQ+ movie is Wong Kar-wai’s 1997 drama, for which he won the best director at the Cannes Film Festival. In contrast to the gentle feel of both Blue Gate Crossing and Suk Suk, Happy Together is more spiky, punctuated with frequent arguments between Ho Po-Wing (Leslie Cheung) and Lai Yiu-fai (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) as their relationship disintegrates as they try repeatedly to move on from one another.
Directed by: Phi Tien Son
Three ordinary bisexual people living in China enter into a complicated and emotional love triangle as they deal with the struggles of existing in today’s society.
Bangkok Love Story (I love you)
Directed by Poj Arnon
Hitman Maek is assigned to get rid of a police informant named Iht, but Maek has a change of heart when he discovers that Iht isn’t the everyday scum he is usually assigned to deal with. The two escape with Maek injured, and Ihk helps take care of the wounded Maek. As time passes each begins to grow feelings for the other. But their love also causes many obstacles ahead for each other.
Directed by Leon Le
Song Lang, set in 90s Saigon, begins with Dung “Thunderbolt”, a debt collector, meeting Linh Phung, a cải lương (Vietnamese opera) actor. When Dung sees Linh Phung on stage, Dung was instantly pulled back to the past he has long been trying to ignore and reminded about his passion for Vietnamese opera.
The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros
Directed by Auraeus Solito
The Filipino film has made rounds in various international film festivals including the Netherlands’ International Film Festival Rotterdam and Canada’s Montreal World Film Festival.
Maxi, a feminine 12-year-old boy living in the slums takes on the role of the mother of his family spending his days cooking and doing household chores. When Maxi is attacked by local thugs one late night, he’s fortunately saved by rookie police officer Victor. Maxi’s family’s illegal livelihood is soon in contention with his crush on Victor and Maxi finds himself torn between family and love.
Available in : Vietnamese