Running Asia’s Oldest Queer Film Festival

Screen shot for the HKLG Film Festival

Hong Kong’s Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (HKLGFF) turned 30 this year! It’s Asia’s longest running LGBTQIA film festival, and has been under the directorship of Joseph Lam for the past 15 years. We spoke to him about his tenure and the tense atmosphere in which this year’s festival opens.

Joe Lam Photo from the HKLG Film Festival
Joe Lam, HKLGFF Director

Given the political climate in Hong Kong, what is the importance of Hong Kong’s Lesbian and Gay Film Festival? How or where did you find motivation to go ahead with the festival?

HKLGFF is providing entertainment and education through movies. Based on audience feedback, we added a few more comedies this year. I am hoping people can take a break from HK’s intense political situation. At the same time, audiences can learn something by watching the political documentary ‘Monument of Pride’, which is about the Netherland’s LGBT human rights movement.

It was such a big challenge to put the festival together this year. We started booking the films before this summer and started ticketing 3 weeks before our opening. I had no idea who would buy tickets. Luckily, two of our opening films sold out! 

No matter what is happening in Hong Kong right now, I believe everyone has their role in society. For me personally, it is my duty to make this festival happen. We have a great team to support each other. My colleagues are my motivation.

"Siny Shrimps" Screen shot for the HKLG Film Festival
“The Shiny Shrimps”, one of the comedies added to this year’s screenings.

How much has Hong Kong opened up since 2005 when you wrote your first foreword? 

I think Hong Kong has become more open and accepting of the LGBT community, which is still fighting for equal rights. Even though we have made some gains, we still have a long way to go towards full equality.

“No matter what is happening in Hong Kong right now, I believe everyone has their role in society. For me personally, it is my duty to make this festival happen.”

Joe Lam, HKLGFF Director

Why is it called the ‘lesbian and gay’ film festival? Does the reflect the curation?

I’m not exactly sure, that name was chosen before my time [as director] some 30 years ago, when things were very different and queer film was less diverse. Despite the name, we are truly a LGBTQIA film festival as our curation shows- we screen bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer films. 

"Being Impossible" Screen shot for the HKLG Film Festival
“Being Impossible”, the first intersex film screened at the HKLGFF.

Any special mentions for the remainder of the festival?

Check out the feature film, Being Impossible, from Colombia and Venezuela. It’s our first time to screen an intersex film, and was an official selection at SXSW and the Taipei Film Festival 2019. The next showing is on September 20. 

Lastly, everyone should check out the plans for our closing party. We have invited a drag queen, Miss Gimhuay, from Drag Race Thailand and guest judge Sira to perform! Tickets are on sale now.

Read Joe Lam’s full festival foreword here.

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