The following online interview was conducted between Popo Fan and Hongwei Bao (Associate Professor in Media Studies, University of Nottingham) on 20 November 2020. In this three-part interview, Popo Fan talked about his life, filmmaking career, and the queer activism in which he has participated.
Popo Fan (b.1985, Jiangsu) is most of the most prolific queer filmmakers from China. He has made more than a dozen documentaries and fiction films, most of which revolve around queer sexuality, identity and community. Fan started to participate in queer activism since his university days. He is a committee member of the Beijing Queer Film Festival (aka Love Queer Cinema Week); he is also a founder of the Queer University Video Training Camp. Fan is an important participant in and witness to the queer filmmaking and queer activism scenes in the PRC today. Fan’s website: https://www.popofan.net/
Part 1. Queer Films and Film Festivals in China
In the first part of the interview, Fan introduced this year’s Beijing Love Queer Cinema Week (aka Beijing Queer Film Festival) that took place on 6-15 November 2020. He also traced the history of the Beijing Queer Film Festival and reviewed the status quo of queer filmmaking in the PRC. He also reflected on his role in Chinese queer cinema and queer activism.
Part 2. Popo Fan’s Documentary Filmmaking
In the second part of the interview, Fan discussed his queer documentary filmmaking in Beijing from 2009 to 2016. Working closely with queer and feminist communities in China, Fan made an impressive list of queer and feminist documentaries including New Beijing, New Marriage (2009), Paper House (2010), Mama Rainbow (2012), The VaChina Monologues (2013), Papa Rainbow (2016), and About My Parents and Their Child (2016). Many of these films had a great impact on queer communities in China. Fan also reflected on the style, aesthetics and politics of his documentary films.
Part 3. Popo Fan’s Fiction Filmmaking
In the final part of the interview, Fan discussed his fiction filmmaking, especially after he moved from Beijing to Berlin in 2017. While in Berlin, Fan has made a number of fiction films with experimental aesthetics and styles, and they explore a myriad of issues concerning sexuality, intimacy, and identity. They include: The Hutong Vibe (2017), The Drum Tower (2018), Floss (2019), Beer, Beer (2019), and Hey, Siro (2020). In addition, Fan has actively engaged with some social and political issues such as film censorship in China and Sinophobic racism in Europe. At the end of the interview, Fan introduced his current work and advises other filmmakers and artists on how to remain creative and productive in the COVID-19 pandemic.