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Queer China, Comrade China

Cui Zien

Release year: 2008

Run time: 118 min

Film type: Documentary


Since the dramatic social reforms China started over 20 years ago, gender and sexual orientation have received increasing public attention. Male sexism and heterosexual hegemony are being challenged by feminism and queerness. Progress in sexual attitudes, behaviour and media representations has fumbled and stumbled its way among diehard conservatives in the 30 years of China's new history. We are in an age where images possess the power to affect the world. We intend to review and summarize the development of homosexuality as an issue in the past 30 years through an archive of images. We aim to trace and document the homosexual rights movement in China and highlight key historical moments, such as the decriminalization and depathologizing of homosexuality, alongside a visual record of Chinese people’s shifts in attitude and positive media exposure. Our film will also present legislative achievements, academic research, literary publications, artistic exhibitions, and the joint efforts to combat HIV/AIDS by sexologists, medical professionals, and community-based LGBT groups. In this feature-length documentary, we interviewed 30 prominent figures in the LGBT community who have experienced this sea-change in views and lifestyles regarding homosexuality in the past 30 years. By documenting and preserving a significant part of our history, we aim to investigate the present and explore the future. The following are the main focuses and themes of the documentary: academic publication: from translation to sociological research to grassroots scholarly work; sexology: from the “asexual era” to “liberated sex” to the “one-child era”; laws and regulations: from illegal to unillegal to appeal to legalization; gender politics: from "unnameable" to "invisible" to "coming out" ; the economy: from unified supply to the "pink economy"; mental health: from the "pervert" to depathologization; culture and media: from absence of attention to becoming a hot topic; literature and art: from the underground to the press and to podcasts; Community life: from hidden from the light to facing the public.


Director biography

Cui Zi’en (born Heilongjiang, 1958) is a film director, essayist, and novelist. He became known in the 1990s as an outspoken queer activist. He is known as an avant-garde underground director in China. His notable films about homosexuality include the documentary Queer China, Comrade China (2009) , which deals with changes in Chinese LGBT culture over the last 30 years. He has written books on theory and criticism as well as publishing nine novels in China and Hong Kong, one of which, Uncle’s Past, won the 2001 Radio Literature Award in Germany. He also taught at the Beijing Film Academy.