Stockholm Pride – Chinese Queer Film

Sadly, my “Swedish” is not sophisticated enough to understand the complexities of some of the discussions you might encounter at an event like Stockholm Pride. While it won’t be too much of an issue at events like the Schlagerkväll (the pop music night), I’m still very interested in going to talks and events, especially since Stockholm Pride usually has a very “global” outlook. I remember a few years ago there was a talk given about LGBTQI rights in Australia, for example. So I spent half an hour or so on the weekend scouring the program for events and talks that were likely to be in English.

The first event I came across was not only in English, it was also an issue which I have a really strong personal interest in. The event, “Rainbow in the night: Chinese queer film making” was a forty minute talk by a 30-something film-maker from Beijing called Fan Popo.

He began the event by screening about ten minutes of a documentary film, “New Beijing, New Marriage”, he made about gay and lesbian weddings in Beijing and the public reaction to them. Within twenty seconds, I realised I’d seen the film before, two years ago, as part of the exhibition “Secret Love” at the Östasiatiska museet (East Asian Art Museum) on Skeppsholmen, here in Stockholm. It was lovely to be “taken back” and to remember that wonderful exhibition which I wrote about at the time:

One of the most impressive works for me is a four panel work called “Hello Comrades” which one the surface, purports to show just lots of faces involved involved in similar pursuits including construction, the military, and playing ping-pong. When you look more closely, however, there are obviously homosexual images. The same “hidden” depiction is also found in a series of paper cuts in a dark room which only become apparent when light is shined on them. Most memorably, there’s a video work which depicts a demonstration of and public reaction to same sex couples seeking to be married.

Fan Popo then went on to talk about some of the other documentaries he has made. “Most people like to see documentaries at the moment, because they want stories about real people”, he explained to the audience of maybe 60 people, when asked the question about making documentaries versus fiction.

I was the first person to ask a question. “Having heard so much about your experiences in Beijing, can you explain what it’s like in Shanghai and other places?”, I asked. He explained that because Beijing is the seat of political power, that’s where most of the LGBTQI activist groups are based. “I had a boyfriend in Shanghai so I know a bit about life there too”, he explained, saying the scene in Shanghai is far more “commercial”. He went on to say he hoped Shanghai might become a little more “activist”.

There were also questions about what life was like outside the larger centres, about distributing information via social media, and the degree to which trans people are recognised in China, and portrayed in films.

The talk was really interesting and well appreciated, and he spoke about his life and work with both a passion and a wonderful sense of humour.

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