Guo Hengqi, one of the judges of the Shanghai Queer Film Festival (SHQFF) Short Film Competition Unit, is a documentary director and editor. His films include The Temple and New Castle, which won the 15th Pusan International Film Festival BIFF Mecenat Award. He also served as a film editor for A Journal of Crude Oil, Lotus, The Missing, and many other films. When approached by SHQFF, Director Guo responded to our interview in a concise yet comprehensive way, revealing his cool personality throughout. His answers inform us that labels such as “queer” or “minority” should not be a reason to criticize or praise a movie, also arguing that neither should we use these labels to depreciate others or boost ourselves. Instructions from others may not fit your path, so why not go on your own way?
You had promised to be a judge for the Shanghai Queer Film Festival. What kind of potential and possibilities do you see in this film festival?
I wish to participate in Shanghai Queer Film Festival mainly to support my friends as well as queer films. From the perspective of promoting the diversity of film culture, this film festival is a thing worthy of commendation. I hope that everyone can develop a deeper understanding and a more tolerant attitude toward LGBTQIA groups because of Shanghai Queer Film Festival.
Currently, China’s “official” attitude towards LGBTQIA people is not very clear. Under these circumstances, in which direction you think queer filmmakers should steer their efforts? What are your expectations for them?
Personally, I think that the public attitude matters more than the official attitude towards LGBTQIA life, work and social activities. Public attitudes will be more influential, so we need a process of informing everyone about LGBTQIA people. In this endeavor, along with various other methods, film should be an effective platform.
In your opinion, what’s the difference between the queer films in Asia and those in the rest of the world?
I know little about queer films or related film festivals. Originally, I only knew the Beijing Queer Film Festival and Torino Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, but I had only heard of them and did not have a deep understanding. Thus, it is hard for me to comment on the differences between them.
Do you have any Asian queer movies or short films you like, especially works by Chinese directors? If so, please recommend them to us.
Basically, I only concerned about the film itself when I am watching it. I do not care much about its other properties. Therefore, on the topic of queer films, I could recommend well-known films like Brokeback Mountain and Happy Together. I watched Lan Yu and East Palace West Palace long ago and have only a vague impression of them. So I don’t have any recommendations for now, but I do believe I will have some after I watch this festival’s selection.
Shanghai Queer Film Festival is dedicated to raising public awareness on sexual orientation of “minorities” and multi-culturalism to a certain extent to promote its development. In today’s Chinese film industry, those who adhere to the appeal of a film’s artistic quality is actually the “minority “. Where do you think the” minority ” would go in the current context?
Whether it is film or another medium, if we insist on appealing to ourselves, then we should know before that we must be a minority. Becoming a “minority” is a choice that doesn’t merit complaint or praise.
In fact, you yourself could be called the “minority “ in the film industry, as you have your standards and pursuis. For those filmmakers who are fresh and have their own unique pursuit, do you have any recommendations?
For newcomers to the film industry, I do not dare make recommendations. First of all, I am not a winner; up till now, I still get stuck in the contradiction between self and reality. Secondly, no one’s road can be repeated, and so recommendations from others do not necessarily fit those who adhere to the themselves.