“Jiuzhicangyingzhuangqiang（Nine flies hitting the wall）”, one of Shanghai Film Festival film curators, came to SHQFF as a judge for the Short Film Competition Unit. He was one of the founders of Drama and Film Newspaper: Global Variety, a legendary newspaper in the 1990s. With nearly two decades of experience in professional film criticism and industry analysis, he is also one of the first folk film critics in China. Throughout the year, he travels the world to watch films. In the past, he was a second-round judge in the 2015 FIRST International Film Festival and film curator in both the 2016 and 2017 Shanghai Film Festival. He is familiar with the creating methods and market operation of art films and has his own unique insights and views toward major film festivals.
SHQFF had a chat him on the definitions of so-called “queer cinema” and “queer culture”.
In your opinion, what’s the difference between the queer films in Asia and those in the rest of the world?
Western queer cinema has a long history. Before the term “queer” was born, there were films with queer tendencies appearing in Hollywood and Europe. The term “queer” can be used to sum up the commonality of these films. Thus, films with such content, themes, and genres were formed.
Due to the limitations of a broad environment, Asian queer cinema has a relatively short history, and they are quite simplex in content and themes and more cautious in style and genre. However, on the other hand, Asian queer films have special forms of expression found in eastern culture: sometimes gentle and graceful, sometimes bold and unconstrained. These are also emotions and cultural characteristics which are not found in western queer culture.
As a senior film critic with a wide range of fans among “literary and artistic” youth, what’s your point of view on the establishment of the queer division in these three major film festivals?
The concept of “queer” in the west has become a proprietary field of film research, with many queer film courses being developed and much research being done. Queer cinema has formed a special aesthetic style; its expression, creation patterns of frames and sounds, and even narrative structure are a bit different from other types of film. We can even say that it a new type of film in a general sense.
One of the duties and functions of an art film festival is to explore the new tides and trends of cinema. The content of queer cinema has potential and unique attraction in film aesthetics, which is one of the directions of global art film development. Therefore, it obviously makes sense that the three major film festivals show interest towards queer films. Moreover, the establishment of a queer division also reflects their social and cultural concern for queer groups and queer culture.
You are currently studying film in France. The French academic Michelle Foucault has many concepts that could strongly support “queer theory”. How do you think about queer topics?
The reason why Foucault’s study on intellectual history and philosophy is innovative largely relates to his unique sexual orientation and sexual experiences. Sexual orientation allows us to stay in a single framework of social consciousness, forming a fixed perspective. Different sexual orientations can often give people new perspectives, and thus, these emotional experiences and Foucault’s rich and bold rational thinking, combined with his own academic literacy, brought up the foundation of his ideological system.
As a result, the meaning of queer culture is to provide a fresh perspective for humanity to think, feel and experience the world, which offers us a chance to investigate ourselves and experience life from a new angle. This may not relate only to emotional feelings, but also an inspiring direction in rational thinking. The new awareness towards history and knowledge, social and sexual itself which expanded in Foucault’s theory also reflected this point.