In my school days, I was given the nickname of Lao Bao (literally ‘Old Bao’) by my peers, possibly because of my relative mature look and outlook compared to many of them. I was extremely introvert back then, but books and films provided me with a safe shelter where I could feel at home. I loved reading books and watching films, lots of them, even though my choices were extremely limited in these days. Perhaps as a result, I became extremely short-sighted, and my glass prescriptions increased year by year. My classmates often wanted to try my glasses on, curious to find out what the world might look like through these thick lenses. I had a little secret: the glasses I wear are unusual: they help me see things in a different way; everything I see is filtered through a queer lens — that is, my own sexuality and my understanding of queer theory.
Queer Lens is a column dedicated to the study and discussion of queer cinema. It primarily comments on different aspects of Chinese-language queer cinema, especially queer indies. It also covers other aspects of Chinese queer culture and other types of Chinese indie cinema, all from the perspective of gender and sexuality. The column consists primarily of short blog-style essays, interviews with queer artists and filmmakers, film reviews, and book reviews. I also use this column to document a brief history and trace the development of Chinese queer cinema, and at the same time reflect critically on people, societies, and intimacies from the prism of queer cinema. You are welcome to put on my magical glasses; enjoy the experience!
Queer Lens also welcomes original contributions on queer cinema and culture around the world from other authors. These contributions can take various forms: essay, op-ed, film review, film festival and art exhibition review, and so on. If you have a proposal, please Email Hongwei Bao or CIFA.
Please see Bao Hongwei’s Critic’s Collection.
Her, Me, and Us: Women Arts Festival, Yunnan, 2022
In this conversation, Hongwei Bao from Queer Lens interviews Banying (In Light of Shadows) founder and curator Jiete Li about the Women Arts Festival, 2022 Yunnan Edition.
Screening Indie Chinese Films in Berlin: An Interview with the C/LENS Curator Echo Tang
In this conversation, Hongwei Bao from Queer Lens interviews C/LENS founder and curator Echo Tang about the C/LENS screening programmes in summer 2022.
‘We’re Asians, Gay and Proud’: An Interview with Daniel C. Tsang
In this video interview with Dr Hongwei Bao from Queer Lens, Tsang reflects on his fifty years of Asian American and queer activism, including his 1975 ‘Gay Awareness’ article (often known as ‘first gay Asian manifesto’); the Gay Insurgent magazine he edited, whose 1980 front cover features the Asian American contingent at the first Lesbian and Gay March on Washington DC in 1979 ; the Subversity radio show he hosted at UC Irvine; and the second Chinese Tongzhi Conference he attended in Hong Kong in 1998.
Queer Media in China: A Brief History
In this talk, Dr Hongwei Bao introduces the history of queer community media in China from the 1990s. He charts the evolution of queer media and technologies including telephone and pager hotlines, queer community zines, websites and dating apps. In doing so, he discerns the crucial role of media in constructing queer identity and community formation and in articulating queer politics.
“Embrace queerness!”: An Interview with Queer Squad
In this interview, Hongwei Bao from Queer Lens interviews Pei from Queer Squad, a Frankfurt-based feminist and queer group.
Independent Documentary in China’s Feminist and LGBTQ+ Movements
In this webinar organised by C/LENS on 26 June 2022, Dr Zhou Yunyun (University of Oslo, Norway, Dr Zeng Jinyan (Lund University, Sweden) and Dr Bao Hongwei (University of Nottingham, UK) introduced the context, features, key authors and works in Chinese feminist and queer documentary. The key questions of the discussion are: What is a feminist documentary and what kind of ethics should they follow? How are the histories of Chinese queer cinema and independent documentaries intertwined with each other? After the presentations, the speakers answered questions from the audience about the issues of access and documentary ethics.
Studies of Queer Chinese Filmmakers: Fan Popo
In these two videos, Dr. Hongwei Bao from the University of Nottingham, UK, analyses Fan Popo’s documentary and feature film work and his involvement in activist practices over the last two years.
Chinese Queer Cinema: A Very Brief History
The first video in this article focuses on the development of queer films in mainland China during the reform and opening-up period; the second video focuses on transgender representation in independent cinema.
Queer Women’s Cinema in Contemporary China: Shi Tou and He Xiaopei in Conversation
Queer female directors occupy a unique position in the history of Chinese independent cinema. They use images to present the queer female body, subjectivity and eroticism; while also challenging the male-centric Chinese queer movement and the heteronormativity of Chinese history and women’s history. These video interviews were provided by Queer China UK and are in Mandarin.
Camp Culture in China
This paper traces the origins and expressions of the term ‘camp’ in the Chinese context, and explores the possibilities of localising camp aesthetics and pop culture in contemporary China.
Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival: from the Perspective of a Female Programmer, An Interview with Lillian Liu
Author: Xie Heshen
LIU Hiu Ying Lillian is a PhD student in Transcultural Studies at the Institute of Transtextual and Transcultural Studies (IETT), France. She holds a B.A. in Applied Foreign Languages (French-English-Japanese) and an MPhil in Comparative Cultural Studies from Jean Moulin Lyon 3 University. Her research focuses on Post-colonial societies and Hong Kong cinema. She is also a freelance translator, and a short film curator at the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
Using Films and A Pleasure-Based Approach to Tackle Discrimination:He Xiaopei in Conversation
In this 30-minute interview, Dr Hongwei Bao (University of Nottingham, UK) and Chinese queer feminist filmmaker He Xiaopei (Pink Space China) discuss how to use films to promote a pleasure-based approach in tackling discrimination in society, and especially in the health care sector. He Xiaopei also talks about her life, filmmaking career, as well as some of her films including Gay Cats, I Love You Too and Evo and Chrissy.
‘Queer is Our Purpose’: An Interview with CINEMQ
CINEMQ, a Shanghai-based queer film collective, writes on its website: ‘walls are our screens; rooftops and basements are our cinemas; queer is our purpose.’ This nicely sums up some of the things that CINEMQ does and the environment in which CINEMQ works. How cool is that! Queer Lens is very pleased to have CINEMQ with us talking about the various cool things they do for Chinese queer film culture and activism.
Exploring Queer Women’s Space: An Interview with Shi Tou
In the following three-part video interview, Hongwei Bao talks to queer artist, filmmaker, and activist Shi Tou about her artworks, films and the LGBTQ activism she has participated in from the 1990s to present.
Raising East and Southeast Asian Queer Visibility in the UK: An Interview with Queer East
It’s Lunar New Year! Queer Lens is pleased to have Yi Wang with us talking about the Queer East film festival he has been organising in the UK since last year. Event organisers like Wang himself are faced with a lot of challenges brought about by the ongoing global pandemic, but they remain optimistic about the future of queer films and LGBTQ rights in East and Southeast Asia; they are also deeply committed to queer worldmaking through films across nations and cultures. Happy New Year and best wishes to all!
Inside/Out: LGBTQ+ Representation in Film and Television – Yutaka Kubo
For our first column article in 2021, it is our great pleasure to introduce the Inside/Out: LGBTQ+ Representation in Film and Television exhibition that took place at the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University, Japan, from 28 September, 2020 to 15 January 15, 2021. The curator Dr Yutaka Kubo writes about the exhibition.
From Queer Comrades to Queer University: An Interview with Xiaogang Wei
In this three-part video interview, Xiaogang Wei, queer filmmaker and activist, talked about his experience of making queer films and participating in LGBTQ activism in China.
Interview with Popo Fan
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.
Playlist: Queer Cinema from Mainland China
When I started to create a playlist on Chinese queer cinema, I was immediately confronted with some big questions: What is Chinese? What is queer? What is cinema? …
Queer Culture in 1990s Beijing: An Interview with Susie Jolly
In this interview, queer feminist activist Susie Jolly talks about her life in Beijing in the 1990s. The interview reveals a burgeoning urban queer culture in the formative years of the queer community and activism in post-Mao China.
Chinese Queer Documentaries in a Transnational Context
In this short article, I offer a brief overview of the status quo of the Chinese queer documentaries in a transnational context.
‘Creating an Experimental Space for Queer People in the Global South’: An Interview about the African Queer University Programme Cinema
The following interview about the African Queer University Video Capacity Building Training Programme (African Queer University Programme for short) (2017-2019) was conducted in August and September 2020 between Hongwei Bao and Xiaogang Wei, founder of Queer University.
The Queer Feminist Aesthetics and Politics of Women 50 Minutes
Women 50 minutes is not only a representative of queer films but also a representative of feminist films.
Chinese Queer Cinema as Independent Cinema
I went to Cui Zi’en’s lecture and became interested in the development of queer movement in China.
The Local and the Global in Chinese Queer Cinema
Discussing the locality, globality and post-coloniality of Chinese queer images is of great practical significance. These are the discourse environment and power relations faced by the current situation and development of Chinese independent films.