The Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film & Video Festival (HKLGFF) - the largest and longest-running lesbian & gay film festival in Asia - is in full swing and will run till Nov 15, featuring more than 50 screenings at the Palace IFC and Broadway Cinematheque.
The festival will feature two special events: a panel discussion and performance/ lecture on transgenderism, the festival's theme as well as six films starring Tilda Swinton, who has put audiences to test with her fluid performances as both male and female in Orlando and as an obsessively disturbed lawyer in Female Perversions, both of which will be screened at the festival. (Read about the HKLGFF here.)
Fridae chats with Festival Director Vicci Ho about the highlights of the festival, her favourite lesbian movies and her take on The L Word, among other things.
æ: ASOL (Age, Sex, Occupation, Location)
Vicci: 26, female, film festival organiser, Hong Kong!
æ: The theme of the festival this year is "Invisible No More: Being Transgender In Hong Kong." Why was the theme chosen and what does it aim to achieve?
Vicci: We thought that the HKLGFF has not given enough attention to transgender films and the transgender community. We decided to choose this theme because it is not only long overdue, we also feel this is a great year to push this theme to the forefront because of the strength of transgender films this year. After the success of Transamerica and the amazing films we sourced, we knew that this is the year to have this theme and bring more transgendered films to Hong Kong. We have selected five award-winning features and documentaries from around the world that feature the lives of transgendered people. It is a great insight into their lives and the challenges and difficulties they face. The festival is extremely proud to be able to show such amazing films this year.
æ: What are the other highlights of the festival?
Vicci: Our Actress in Focus is Tilda Swinton who is regarded as one of the best actresses of her generation. We have selected six of her best films, including classics from Derek Jarman such as The Last of England and The Garden, Sally Potter's Orlando, and John Maybury's Love is the Devil, which deals with the life of Francis Bacon and starring Daniel Craig, the new James Bond. We also got Tilda to do an interview for us, where she shares her insights into filmmaking and our progamming.
æ: How did you get involved with HKGLFF?
Vicci: I started helping out two years ago, and earlier this year I was invited to come on board as the director. I studied film in university and Denise Tang (ex-director of the HKLGFF) knew I have some film background, and didn't have a job...
æ: What's your favourite lesbian/gay film of all time and why?
Vicci: Ooh... that's a really tough one. I'll have to say it's a tie between Swoon and Bound. Swoon is one of the most interesting films during the new queer cinema movement. It haunts me. Bound is a late entry... used to think it was cheesy but once I realised I was missing the point. I love it. I mean, Gina Gershon... need I say more?
æ: I hear that you're a fan of anime. What attracts you to the genre and what are your faves?
Vicci: Ha ha, so you've goggled me! I guess what I love most about anime is that they are cartoons that don't make an effort to dumb down and try and appeal to people under five years of age; it treats you like an adult and it is slowly becoming a respected genre. I am a fan of any early Hayao Miyazaki's work, but my all time favourite anime film is probably Ghost in the Shell.
æ: Many lesbians in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and other parts of Asia watch the Amercian lesbian drama series The L Word religiously. Some have criticised the series to be an unrealistic portrayal of lesbians as all being glossy, wealthy and gorgeous while others say it's one of the best TV shows created. Do you watch it and what are your thoughts about the series?
Vicci: Well... I think the criticisms about lesbians being gorgeous and not wealthy are from people who have never been to Los Angeles where the series is set. I hate to say it but most of the lesbians I've met are not far off from the people on the show. Of course it is exaggerated and unrealistic, but it is TELEVISION. It's not meant to be a reflection of real people either... so I think it is unfair to say the show is bad because of that. I think the show... is, just, not very good anymore. I think when it first started, I enjoyed watching it but by the third season the story lines were making it painful to watch. I can't watch it anymore because I think it has turned into a bad television show, with a bad storyline and predictably soapy developments. I just got bored and gave up.
So I did watch it but I dislike it simply because I think the show is currently not up to its standards... so I'll recommend other people to check out Sugar Rush instead. (I am on a one-woman mission to make Sugar Rush as familiar a name as The L Word in the near future!)
Sugar Rush is a UK-made show about friendship and love... and about two people who are friends, who love each other, but yet can never be together as lovers. It's about two teenagers: Kim who has a crush on her best friend (trouble maker) Sugar. Sugar is however as straight as an arrow. So their adventure together, the pains of growing up, and trying to figure out how to handle loving someone so close to you are all very interesting and enjoyable. I think I can relate to the times when you know you're falling for the wrong gal but you just can't seem to pull away... oh, those teenage angst days. Sugar Rush has such realistic emotions behind it I think anyone can find something to relate to.
æ: So which character(s) from the various shows do you most identify with, and which do you find most attractive?
Vicci: For The L Word, probably Alice but less obsessive and sadly, not as funny as her either. I think hot would have to be Carmen! And for Sugar Rush: probably Saint because I think people misinterpret me for a tough-nut when I am really a big softie inside.
æ: What other projects are you involved with?
Vicci: I usually write and do translations for a living...but apart from that, I'm currently fully devoted to HKLGFF!
æ: Tell us one of your fantasies?
Vicci: Umm......all I ever want to be, is a rock star. If only I had more talent!
æ: What was the most important thing that happened to you in the last 12 months?
Vicci: My nephew was born six months ago and for the first time in my life, I got to play with a baby without having to take any responsibility for it!
æ: What's your biggest guilty pleasure?
Vicci: I occasionally play air guitar [the act of pretending to play guitar, usually an exaggerated strumming motion] unconsciously.
æ: What is your vision for the gay community?
Vicci: Stop all the divisions already! I think everyone in the LGBT community should make a greater effort to be more unified, rather than divided.
æ: Tell us about a cause that you support?
Make Trade Fair. It is a campaign by Oxfam International which calls on governments, instituitions and multinational companies to change the rules so that trade can become part of the solution to poverty, not part of the problem. (See maketradefair.com)
æ: Who would your dream date be if you were straight for a day?
Vicci: Ummm... this is a tough one... George Clooney because he's sexy, seemingly charming and intelligent, and politically active.
æ: Tell us something even your mother doesn't know.
Vicci: I was once chased by policemen after a rally turned sour, but thankfully, I managed to get away. Upon the first sight of trouble I bolted... probably wasn't a brave thing to do, but definitely the smart way to go!