On Friday night I attended the opening of the Beijing Queer Film Festival in a gay bar in Beijing’s Gulou bar district. Held biannually, the festival is now in its tenth year, and still thrums with all the intensity of an underground, emergent community. The bar on Friday night was packed, and filmmakers invited from around the world spoke of a time when their own country’s queer community had the same sense of adversity and purpose.
The next day I spoke with the festival’s executive director, Yang Yang, a clear-thinking woman who has been the backbone of the festival since its inception. Yang is neither gay, nor a filmmaker, and so her commitment to Beijing’s queer community is intriguing.
Yang Yang’s preface to the festival program is a beautiful piece of writing that suggests some of the ongoing complexities behind identity – sexual or otherwise. Below is my discussion with Yang about her ten years running the festival, and the potential of film to communicate difference.