Mark your calendars for the Queer East Festival 2023 which takes place on 18-30 April across London, United Kingdom. Now in its fourth year, Queer East will return with another exciting line-up which mixes contemporary feature film and documentary with retrospective screenings, short films, artists’ moving image works, a VR cinematic experience and dance productions that explore a diverse range of topical LGBTQ+ issues.
Through an incredible programme of cinema and performance art the festival will push boundaries and challenge expectations and labels commonly associated with queer communities. Queer East’s vital programme is sure to provoke, inspire and engage. After the main festival in April in London, there will be a nationwide tour September to November across ten cities featuring 50 films.
“The Filipino LGBT Europe supports the queer arts and cinema, and we are very proud that two Filipino films are part of this historic event tackling LGBTQ+ issues. Asian representation in the global cinematic stage is an important platform to engage and inform the international community about the struggles of the Asian LGBTQ+ community,” said Filipino LGBT Europe chairman Chris Sta. Brigida-Kopp.
Pinoy queer films to break boundaries
Queer East 2023 begins on 18 April at BFI Southbank with an Opening Night Gala UK Premiere screening of hilarious high-camp Filipino comedy I Love You, Beksman.
From director Percival Intalan (Dementia, 2014; Born Beautiful, 2019) the film follows glamorous make-up artist and fashion designer Dali, who is assumed by his friends, colleagues, and queer family to be gay. But when Dali falls for beauty pageant queen Angel, he’s forced to finally come out as straight… the problem is, nobody believes him, not even Angel.
Packed with music and laughter, I Love You, Beksman is a joyous and uplifting exploration of identity packed with fun performances from its ensemble cast, and with a charming and earnest lead in award-winning young actor Christian Bables. This UK Premiere screening follows its International Premiere at the recent International Film Festival Rotterdam.
Another Filipino queer film will be featured during the festival. About Us But Not About Us is an experimental mystery-drama from the Philippines, literature student Lance has dinner with his university professor Eric, who is gay and coming to terms with the recent death of his partner. Their trip to a restaurant in Manila begins innocuously enough, with the enthusiastic Lance gratefully acknowledging his mentor’s help and encouragement. But as disturbing revelations about the past begin to emerge, the encounter evolves into a venomous battle of wills.
Romnick Sarmenta and Elijah Canlas are outstanding in this tense, claustrophobic work about false narratives, distorted memories, and the masks we wear in order to project an image to others. Shooting largely in one location, director Jun Robles Lana exploits Covid-19 restrictions to dramatic effect, with the film playing out in real time over a restaurant sitting of 90 minutes.
Asian representation on the big screen
The festival was established in response to the systemic lack of Asian representation on the big screen, onstage, and behind the scenes. Global events over the past few years have again reminded us that fair and authentic racial and sexual representation is crucial for our society.
The richness of Asian and queer heritage forms a vital part of this country’s identity. Through a diverse and forward-thinking programme, the festival aims to amplify the voices of Asian communities and challenge the conventional norms, labels, and stereotypes associated with queer Asian portrayals.
Working collaboratively with allies across the film, arts, and cultural sectors, the festival hopes to join the forces bringing about change in screen culture and to enable an open space for everyone to explore the contemporary queer landscape across East and Southeast Asia.
The films will be screened across London in various venues such as BFI Southbank, Barbican Centre, Prince Charles Cinema, Genesis Cinema, Garden Cinema, Bertha DocHouse, Rich Mix and The Place.