Screening Queerness: NYU Shanghai’s ‘Queer Waves, Our Stories’ Film Festival


What is it like to be a member of the LGBTQ community in China? What sorts of compromises do lesbians, gay men, and transgenders have to make here and how high is social acceptance here? But more than all this – how can this world be translated to the language of art and cinema, and why? The ‘Queer Waves, Our Stories’ film festival, held on Nov. 23 at NYU Shanghai sought answers for these questions, while presenting short films, feature films, and documentaries alongside discussions.


NYUSH Professor Zhen Zhang opened the event in the morning – however, most seats were not filled up. This problem seemed to fade as visitors arrived later on in the day, to catch the feature film or the ending discussion. The films showed were selected from the annual program of The Beijing Queer Film Festival, and started with I am ME, a mesmerizing collection of personal confessions. The program also featured a documentary, Our Story: The Beijing Queer Film Festival’s 10 Years of Guerilla Warfare about the festival and the difficulties faced during its first launch.

The second session consisted of experimental movies concerning LGBTQ issues. These movies approached the subject very differently, with one of them (Body at Large by Ying Zhengru) being a documentary with an extremely artistic and sophisticated approach, which truly contributed to the whole of the festival and provided an interesting context.


After the experimental shorts and the break came The Night by Hao Zhou; a beautifully shot feature film about a male prostitute. The director was also present at the event and set up a Q&A discussion, in which he provided answers to the questions of the audience, and gave a deeper insight how his sociological studies helped him to give an accurate picture about the world he created.

The last movie screened was a documentary called Our Marriages: When Lesbians Marry Gay Men by He Xiaopei and Yuan Yuan, and articulated the darker side of the institution of marriage in China and cases of unfairness it poses on people. The film placed a large emphasis on the social burdens and disadvantages that gay couples have to face to conform with society. In the discussion with director Yuan Yuan after the film, the obvious question was asked: how long will it take for China to accept same-sex marriage legally? – but no definitive answer was given. The event was concluded with an interactive round-table discussion with NYU’s Francesca Tarocco, Zhen Zhang, Yuan Yuan and Yinjie Wang, Associate Professor at Zhejiang Gongshang University.


This article was written by Mate Mohos. Send an email to to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Mate Mohos

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