by Rex Wockner
The fifth Beijing Queer Film Festival wrapped up June 19 after five days of guerrilla-style screenings around the city.
Three days before the opening, the authorities ordered the festival canceled and threatened “harsh consequences” if the order was disobeyed.
Organizers quickly lined up alternate screening locations in bars and coffeehouses, and implemented “strict safety measures surrounding the publication of screening times and places … to stay out of the hands of the authorities for the duration of the festival,” they said.
More than 500 people, including 23 Chinese and foreign queer filmmakers, attended. Thirty films were shown, and many of the filmmakers held talks and discussions.
“Despite, and perhaps even thanks to, the ban imposed by the authorities, the Beijing Queer Film Festival succeeded in what it set out to do: celebrate queer film and celebrate the necessity of showing queer films in a society where nonmainstream voices are stifled all too often,” the organizers said.
The entities that banned the festival were the Beijing Xicheng District Public Security Bureau, the Culture Bureau, and the Bureau of Industry and Trade, festival organizers said.
“While it is unfortunate that we had to be guerrilla-warriors once again in order to hold this festival, we feel empowered and invigorated by the reactions of the audience and the filmmakers, and we’re ready to continue with our goal of spreading queer films and queer culture in Chinese society,” said festival chairwoman Yang Yang.
“Our biggest enemy consists of a small number of authoritarian organizations that are using the powerful national propaganda machine to subtly construct mainstream ideology,” she added. “And our biggest worth, our ultimate goal as a queer film festival, is to challenge and oppose this mainstream ideology.”