Five LGBT-themed movies from Taiwan

Source: SCMP (5/24/17)
Five great LGBT-themed movies from Taiwan, model of openness in Asia
In the week that Taiwan’s highest court made history by approving same-sex marriage, we look back at five films with lesbian, gay or bisexual themes
By Edmund Lee

(From left) Joseph Chang, Bryant Chang and Kate Yeung in Eternal Summer.

Taiwan’s top court made history this week by ruling in favour of same-sex marriage – the first Asian territory to do so. Taiwanese society has long been at ease with alternative sexuality, as reflected by these five great LGBT-themed films by Taiwanese directors.

The Wedding Banquet (1993)

Long before his modern classic Brokeback Mountain, Taiwanese-American filmmaker Ang Lee made his international breakthrough with this enthralling family dramedy, about a New York-based gay man who stages a sham marriage in order to please his conservative Chinese parents.

The River (1997)

A homoerotic undercurrent runs through this utterly bleak film by art-house icon Tsai Ming-liang. An award winner in Berlin, this surreal family drama – featuring a patriarch who frequents Taipei’s gay saunas – doubles as a symbolic portrait of the contaminated lives of urban dwellers.

Blue Gate Crossing (2002)

Teen romances don’t get more delicate than this coming-of-age movie, which launched both Gwei Lun-mei and Chen Bolin’s careers. An innocent love triangle complicated by ambiguous sexual orientations, this is one of Taiwan’s best-known films – LGBT-themed or otherwise.

Eternal Summer (2006)

Another love triangle among three high-school friends emerges in this sensual drama, which established Joseph Chang Hsiao-chuan’s heartthrob status. Chang and Blue Gate Crossing star Gwei were to cross paths in the 2012 film Girlfriend Boyfriend, again contemplating sexual preferences.

Thanatos, Drunk (2015)

A multiple-award winner at the Golden Horse Film Festival and the Taipei Film Festival, this sorrowful drama by Taiwanese auteur Chang Tso-chi is a slow-burning piece of poetic realism about a young Taipei man, his gay brother and their sexually ambiguous gigolo friend.

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