The 7th Beijing Queer Film Festival is taking place and moving forward. In the midst of an increasingly restrictive and uncertain environment for independent film, the Beijing Queer Film Festival is proud to announce two important developments: the introduction of a Co-Director system and the shift from a biennial to an annual festival.
The introduction of a co-directorship, of course, is a reflection of the team behind the festival. Since the festival’s conception in 2001, the team has been comprised of both filmmakers who ensure a professional standard in film selection and NGOs dedicated to eliminating discrimination against LGBTQ people. This collaboration means that the Beijing Queer Film Festival is a unique film festival with high standards that also plays an important role in China’s LGBTQ rights movement.
The switch to an annual festival does not simply shorten the cycle of the festival, nor does it just confirm the growth of activity and achievements in the realm of Chinese Queer Film. Importantly, the Beijing Queer Film Festival is not only for queer people, but also engages confidently with a “mainstream” audience. Internationally in the last hundred years, the success of the feminist movement relied on a realization among the mainstreamworld that gender discrimination is wrong. In the African-American Civil Rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. successfully fought for mainstream support from both whites and blacks. For the abolition of apartheid in South Africa, the entire world became the “mainstream” standing in solidarity with black South Africans. Thus, while self-empowerment is essential to fighting discrimination, gaining the support of broad segments of Chinese people is a crucial part of the LGBTQ rights movement. Film is powerful a tool to change hearts and minds. We have seen this with films such as Philadelphia, Brokeback Mountain, and Farewell my Concubine; these are films that have transformed audience’s preconceptions. With this in mind, the Beijing Queer Film Festival aims to expose mainstream audiences to queer themes, and will increase the presence of queer cinema in the mainstream media.
So far we have discussed the significance of LGBTQ rights and culture. But if I am straight, and I neither discriminate against queer people nor have any particular interest in them, what purpose could this film festival have for me? Each of us hopes to live in a culturally rich country; this is key to leading a happy life. In the present moment, China’s economy is flying sky-high, but its culture is crawling on the ground. Diversity is a necessary precondition for cultural development, and the Beijing Queer Film Festival exists to uphold China’s diversity and to plant the seeds necessary for a culturally rich tomorrow. We believe that this day will come.
We would like to thank all those who support the Beijing Queer Film Festival. It is your continued support that has enabled the festival to overcome difficulties and progress this far.
Jenny Man Wu & Li Dan
Co-Directors, 7th Beijing Queer Film Festival
[英译 English Translation: Lucy Edwards]