Connect with us


2024 Line-Up For Queer East Festival Announced



Founded in response to the systemic lack of East and Southeast Asian representation on stage, screen and behind the scenes, Queer East Festival was formed in 2020 and has made its mark in London and across the UK with its bold programmes of LGBTQ+ cinema and visual arts, growing in popularity andsize year-on-year, and celebrating its fifth anniversary this year.

For 2024, Queer East Festival launches its fifth year milestone with a remarkable line up of film screenings, arts and performance events across London from 17 to 28 April 2024 and then across the UK later in the year. The programme includes contemporary feature films, documentaries and shorts as well as special anniversary and retrospective screenings that showcase a wide range of LGBTQ+ stories from East Asia, Southeast Asia and their diaspora communities.

Queer East Festival’s ground-breaking film programme challenges conventions and stereotypes giving audiences an opportunity to explore the contemporary queer landscape across East and Southeast Asia. Amplifying the voices of Asian communities are the UK Premieres of features, documentaries and shorts exploring young queer love, gender nonconformity and asexual identity, as well as thought-provoking classics with the 20th Anniversary screening of Chinese-American romantic comedy Saving Face and 50th Anniversary screening of the once-considered-lost Japanese title Bye Bye Love. Furthermore, the festival’s ‘Expanded’ programme will host a series of unique screening events allowing you to take a dip at a sauna, take a guided walk around a museum garden, or get tied up at an immersive bondage endurance test and more.

Queer East Festival’s boundary-pushing programming is not confined to the film screen, with a dance performance, poetry workshop, and an inaugural Queer East arts exhibition – shedding:::selves – rounding off a truly exciting line-up of experiences.

Embarking on this fifth anniversary edition, Queer East Festival reaffirms a commitment to diversifying the cultural landscape in the UK, and to serving as a platform that nurtures dialogue on the multifaceted understandings of what it means to be Asian and queer today.

Queer East 2024 begins on 17 April at Barbican Centre with an Opening Gala UK Premiere screening of the exhilarating coming-of-age story A Song Sung Blue (China, 2023). Nominated for the Queer Palm and Golden Camera at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, A Song Sung Blue follows lonely, 15-year-old Xian as she experiences a summer she will never forget. When her mother moves away for work, Xian moves in with her free spirited photographer father and a restless summer ensues when she becomes infatuated with his assistant’s daughter, the extroverted Mingmei. A Song Sung Blue is the feature debut from acclaimed short film director Geng Zihan (A Ray of Sunshine, 2019; Green Screen, 2021), and features vivid cinematography, exceptional performances from Kay Huang and Jing Liang, and  is a testament to the innocence and impulses of youth, which signals the arrival of a powerful new voice in queer cinema.


This year’s Closing Gala, taking place at BFI Southbank on 28 April, celebrates the 50th anniversary of Isao Fujisawa’s Bye Bye Love (Japan, 1974). Until the discovery of a film negative in a warehouse in 2018, Bye Bye Love was long considered lost, but this new print gives audiences a rare chance to revisit this radical work of 1970s Japanese cinema, which recalls the 1969 queer classic Funeral Parade of Roses. Following two young people, Utamaro and Giko, on a doomed summer road trip through Japan, this poetic, surreal work reflects on the dissipating promise of 1960s counterculture and free love, transcending gender, sexuality and the body. With a blend of stylistic influences from the French New Wave and American New Cinema along with a rethinking of Japanese artistic traditions, conventional understandings are challenged through a queer lens, adding to the political charge of this rediscovered classic.


Queer East Festival’s features line up celebrates a remarkable selection of stories spanning 57 years of filmmaking and 10 countries, exploring different facets of queer love and identity. Toko Miura (Drive My Car) delivers a riveting performance in I Am What I Am (Japan, 2022) as Kasumi, a young asexual woman who challenges the notion of falling in love after her mother pressures her to get married. From award-winning writer and director Tamada Shinya, this compelling drama offers a rare depiction of asexual identity and the difficulties of having no romantic feelings in a world where love rules supreme. Similarly, Alice Wu’s (The Half of It) debut feature Saving Face (USA, 2004) explores another complicated mother daughter relationship. Michelle Krusiec (Hollywood, The Invitation) stars as Wil, a lesbian who is hiding her sexuality from her family and avoiding her mother’s (Joan Chen, The Last Emperor, Twin Peaks) attempts to set her up with men, instead falling for dancer Vivian (Lynn Chen). This 20th anniversary screening allows audiences to revisit this groundbreaking film, which transcends the rom-com format by subtly depicting the allyship between queer and straight women overwhelmed by patriarchal tradition. Tsai Ming-liang is one of the most celebrated ‘Second New Wave’ film directors of Taiwanese cinema, and his shockingly subversive family drama The River (Taiwan, 1997) centres around the disintegration of a troubled family after a young man is suddenly struck by debilitating neck pain. Shot in Tsai’s signature minimalist style and starring his muse Lee Kang-Sheng, who has appeared in many of Tsai’s groundbreaking films including Rebels of the Neon God and Good Bye, Dragon Inn, this controversial work confirmed the director’s place as a uniquely rebellious voice in LGBTQ+ cinema, offering a sly, queer critique of the nuclear family and the values it represents. 

Adam McKay (Succession, The Big Short) and Alan Cumming (The Good Wife, Goldeneye) serve as executive producers on Asog (Philippines, 2023). Incorporating documentary and fictional elements, this screwball tragicomedy stars a cast of real-life survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda, focusing on Jaya, a non-binary schoolteacher and comedian who travels across the Philippines in the hopes of winning a beauty pageant. From Seán Devlin (When the Storm Fades), Asog is an unconventional road movie that has won awards at international festivals and is a profound ode to the power of solidarity in the face of tragedy. Inspired by the legendary manga series The Heart of Thomas, Shusuke Kaneko’s Summer Vacation 1999 (Japan, 1988) blends mystery, horror, melodrama and sci-fi to tell the story of an adolescent boy who commits suicide at a boarding school, and the violent passions which are unleashed when another boy arrives who eerily resembles the dead student. Strikingly androgynous with female actors portraying the boys, this is a gender fluid exploration of teenage yearning and desire from a director who’s worked on everything from major Japanese franchises Gamera, Godzilla and Death Note to tender indie LGBTQ+ dramas Jellyfish and Yuri no Amaoto. After its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival, Ismail Basbeth’s Sara (Indonesia, 2023) comes to Queer East. Featuring a stunning performance from trans actress Asha Smara Darra in the titular role, Sara follows a trans woman, who returns to her village in rural Indonesia to attend her father’s funeral. Arriving back home, she discovers that her severely traumatised mother has lost all memory of her.

Ben Mullinkosson’s (Don’t Be a Dick About It) coming-of age documentary The Last Year of Darkness (China, USA, 2023) is a love letter to the Chengdu underground scene. With construction cranes looming, the future of queer-friendly techno club Funky Town is unclear, leaving party goers forced to make the most of their remaining time there. Renowned actress turned director Choi Eun-hee (The Sun of Night, The Girl Raised as a Future Daughter-in-Law) was the third ever female director in South Korea, but in 1978 she was abducted by North Korea and forced to make films there before escaping in 1986. Her film A Princess’ One-Sided Love (South Korea, 1967) is a lively costume drama set in the middle of the Joseon era that draws comparisons to Roman Holiday. Another actress-turned-director whose work features at Queer East is Hana Matsumoto, whose film If It’s With You (Japan, 2023) follows Amane, who, due to a past trauma, has given up on the idea of love. When he transfers to a new school he meets Ryuji and the two begin to grow close, but what starts out as light feelings begins to turn into something unexpected. Shanshan Chen integrates animation and anecdotes in her documentary Love Bound (UK, 2024), centering on the journey of Qiuyan Chen who became an unexpected celebrity after suing the Chinese Government over homophobic textbooks. After moving to the UK to escape her suffocating family and government pressure, her life takes an unexpected turn when she meets Bling who has to return to China. Determined to reunite and build a life together, Qiuyan embarks on a challenging journey to bring Bling back to the UK. Abang Adik (Malaysia, 2023) is the debut feature from director Jin Ong, brothers Abang and Adik are undocumented orphans living in Malaysia, as Abang who is deaf-mute works hard to achieve stability, Adik turns to criminality. Featuring critically-acclaimed performances from Kang-ren Wu and Jack Tan, with Wu winning Best Actor at the 2023 Golden Horse Awards for his performance, Abang Adik is a tragic drama about unspoken feelings and intertwined fate. Carl Joseph E. Papa’s The Missing (Philippines, Thailand, 2023) tells the story of mute animator Eric who, when looking for his missing uncle, unwittingly provokes the appearance of a familiar, sinister UFO, and the untangling of traumatic memories. This outstanding animation depicts the psychological journey of a mouthless character who must face up to that which cannot be spoken.


New for 2024, the Expanded strand launches with the aim of exploring alternative ways of viewing, with five unique screening events. From serene outdoor garden walks to steamy sauna gatherings, from intimate performances to hot bondage workshops, these events re-imagine our interactions with screen-based content.

Re-encountering Sunsets, Waves, Birds and Bees

Join us in exploring a fictional island set in the Malay Archipelago and the garden of the Museum of the Home to uncover the intricate network of queer relationships that form our ecologies. The programme begins with Hu Wei’s Long Time between Sunsets and Underground Waves (China, 2021), followed by a guided walk through the Museum of the Home’s garden which will explore the diverse and unusual life cycles and relationships found in and between humans, plants and animals, challenging what we think of as being natural and unnatural, human and non-human.

High Hands Small Hands

Part screening event, part immersive bondage endurance test, this licentious line-up of films is most appropriately experienced in the discomfort of rope restraints. Side effects may include rope burns, and also finding out that all things under heaven are inextricably and disconcertingly tied up in each other. There’s something sexy to be found beyond rights and evils, but first you have to resist resisting. This event will run parallel with an 18+ rope performance, which is an opportunity for some audience members to participate.

  • Titles: Dream Catcher (Dir. Fuyuhiko Takata, Japan, 2018); MOP (Dir. Joon Goh, Malaysia,  2023); There’s No Sex, Only Fans (Dir. Chi-Wen Ting,  Taiwan,  2023); Disconnect (Dir. F E8 and Janice Kei, Hong Kong, UK, 2024); glide by LILY CHOU-CHOU (Dir. Bart Seng Wen Long, UK, 2024); Pteridophilia 3 (Dir. Zheng Bo, China, 2018); Obsolescence (Dir. Cavair To The General, UK,  2021)


Home holds many meanings for East and Southeast Asian communities. It is the love and warmth of family, and also the demands of duty, devotion and filial piety that accompany it. For much of the ESEA diaspora, and the exodus of queer Asian folk who have crossed the pond to experience the world beyond the closet, it is longing to be where we are not, faced with the realisation that we are never quite at home, wherever we go. These are stories of home, of its joys and beauty, its ills and struggle.

  • Titles: Kin (Dir. Charmaine Poh, Singapore, 2021); Jericho (Dir. Lisa Chearles, Singapore, UK, 2021); Where Sleeping Dogs Lie (Dir. Lisa Chearles, Singapore, UK, 2021)

Steamy Intimacies: A Queer East Sauna Experience

Join us for a special screening at Hackney Wick Community Sauna Baths, with a double bill of short film Who Can Predict What Will Move You (USA, 2020) followed by Spa Night (USA, 2016). These two films both showcase nascent queer intimacy and sexuality emerging through water and fluids. After the screening, you can let off some steam in the saunas, or cool yourself down in the plunge pools as well as enjoy a serving of congee, sweet soup, and fried dough sticks.

Image Under the Ground

This programme showcases a series of artists’ short films and a live performance by Nanzhen Yang to create a “cave space”, a transitional space that refracts unspeakable diaspora queer experiences. In these works by Southeast and East Asian filmmakers and artists, “Underground images” can refer to mediation outside of traditional industry filmmaking. Sometimes, it can be associated with the representation of violence or power distribution of the camera, the poor image aesthetic, hidden identity, or images as an underground manifesto and action.

  • Titles: A New Day Has Come (Dir. Nguyen Hai Yen (Red), Vietnam,  2022); Yi-Ren (Dir. Tzu-An Wu, Taiwan, 2015); Silver Cave (Dir. Caibei Cai, China, 2022); Lovers Lovers (Dir. Laobai Wu, Honbin Zheng, China, 2023); KEREL (Sea of Love) (Dir. Jon Cuyson, Philippines, 2021); Cocoon (Dir. Holli Xue, UK,  2024)


Queer East Festival’s shedding:::selves exhibition brings together eight artists whose works generate new readings, metamorphoses, and entanglements of personhood. Spanning sculpture, painting, diagram, interactive installation, and video, this landmark exhibition forges selves that transcend the limitations of identity labels and categorisation. Confirmed artists include Wei Xin Chong, Yifan He, Megumi Ohata, Kianuë Tran Kieu, Sayang, Nata Yada, Noam Youngrak Son and Xinyu XuXX.


Continuing the festival’s dance performance from last year, Disco-TECA brings to life a unique moment in history, taking you back to early 1980s China, when a sensational wave of disco music took the south of the country by storm. After three decades of collectivisation and isolation from the world, the country’s doors were swung open, and in stepped disco dancing, sequins, bell bottoms, and batwings. Produced by Ergao Dance Production Group, this performance delves into the ecstatic power of disco for a nation that was ‘opening up’, exploring gender, identity, rebellion, and sexual liberation. Evoking a poignant historical moment with the iconic stylings of disco, Disco-TECA will transport you to the dance halls of China’s social reform era.


Taking place at London arts organisation Ugly Duck, Queering Objects is a unique poetry workshop event hosted by 2021’s National Poetry Competition winner Eric Yip. Participants will read works by queer Asian poets and translators, as well as engage in writing activities that recontextualize how we see the things around us.


Exploring the queer experience in all its myriad forms, Queer East presents a diverse selection of thematically linked short films across ten groupings.

Dance Baby Dance

CinemaAsia and Queer East join forces once again to present a short film programme that showcases the power of the body. Spanning locations in London, Saigon, Manila, Paris, and Jeju Island, hopping from dance floors to train carriages to abandoned resorts, this collection explores how different forms of movement articulate queer desire. Expressing love and anger, hopefulness and despair, the filmmakers capture a dynamic physicality that breaks through normative boundaries of language, race, gender, and sexuality.

  • Titles: Burial of This Order (Dir. Jane Jin Kaisen, Denmark, 2023); Omarm (Dir. Sara Kerklaan, The Netherlands, 2023); Everybody’s Gotta Love Sometimes (Dir. Sein Lyan Tun, France, Myanmar, Indonesia, 2023); Midnight Rising (Dir. Aileen Ye, UK, 2024); When the House Lights Come On (Dir. Apa Agbayani, Philippines, 2023); If You See Something That Doesn’t Look Right (Dir. Ka Ki Wong, Hong Kong, UK, 2023)

Silence Will Not Protect You

This documentary shorts programme offers an unfiltered look into invisible and unspoken aspects of the LGBTQ+ experience. These films expose the many layers of oppression faced by queer East and Southeast Asian people today. Participants recount their traumatic memories to the camera, laying bare their lived experiences of prejudice and violence, while the filmmakers invite the viewer to join in a moment of solidarity.

  • Titles: Qeluar (Dir. Justice Khor, UK, 2023); The Bus Driver (Dir. Ku Ki, Myanmar, 2024); Heart Murmurs (Dir. Dorothy Cheung, Hong Kong, UK, 2023); House of Rencong (Dir. Rizky Rahadianto, Indonesia, 2022)

Growing Pains

All too often, we’re forced to grow up without taking the time to explore who we are. Torn between fitting in and being ourselves, we’re overwhelmed with emotions and desires with no means of fulfilling them. From navigating the tumultuous terrain of adolescence, to the confusion of first love, these coming-of-age shorts portray the lives of queer youth with empathy and sensitivity, prompting a reflection on our own pasts that have led us to where we are now.

  • Titles: Beats per Minute (Dir. Lin Guan-Chen, Taiwan, 2023); A Catholic Schoolgirl (Dir. Myra Angeline Soriaso, Philippines, 2023); Like Wave Like Cloud (Dir. Yulin Yang,  China,  2023); Curve (Dir. Dan Zeng, China,  2023); Dog Story (Dir. Grace Zhang, US, 2021)

Bakla Bakla Paano Ka Ginawa: Tracing Filipino Definitions of Queerness Across 40 Years of Filmmaking

In the Philippines, bakla is a term that stands for both an ‘effeminate gay man’ and also a transwoman. This shorts programme focuses on how being bakla has been represented, negotiated, and resisted in Filipino cinema. The filmmakers behind this programme interrogate with boundless rigour and personal sensitivity the bakla’s bodies, friends, age, spaces, and environments.

  • Titles: Honey (Dir. Raul Sarmiento, Philippines, 1981); Margins (Dir. Paolo Villaluna, Philippines, 2001); Geography Lessons (Dir. Petersen Vargas, Philippines, 2013); When I Wallowed In A Bowl of Sunshine (Dir. Kukay Zinampan, Philippines, 2021); Taking My Time to Dance (Dir. Celeste Lapida, Philippines, 2024)

A Thousand Words Unspoken

A series of queer shorts that delve into family secrets, buried pasts, silent longings and lost futures. In these poignant films, the characters grapple with unchosen paths and bittersweet moments of newfound connection. Sculpting into shape what cannot be said in words, the filmmakers capture the crossing over of parallel worlds and the lasting marks we leave in each other’s lives.

  • Titles: Don’t Forget Me (Dir. Alice Wang, Canada, 2023); The River That Never Ends (Dir. JT Trinidad, Philippines, 2023); Alexa, Xander and the Universe (Dir. Vahn Pascual, Philippines, 2020); The Nape (Dir. Kim Yu-ra, South Korea, 2023); Dancing Colours (Dir. Mohammad Reza Fahriyansyah, Indonesia, 2022)

Stranger Than Fiction

Queer connections can be found in the most unlikely of places, through secret codes and subtle signals, queer people have always been able to find each other and form communities. This collection of shorts encapsulates the excitement and mystery of meeting someone new, opening up possibilities for self-discovery and reinvention.

  • Titles: Strange (Dir. Ken Ochiai, Japan, 2023); Blue Rain (Dir. Qian He, France, 2023); Dismantle Me (Dir. Max Disgrace, UK, 2023); My Heart is going to Explode! (Dir. Jung Inhyuk, South Korea, 2023); Where the Wild Frangipanis Grow (Dir. Nirartha Bas Diwangkara, Indonesia, 2023)

Glitch! Rewind. Then we…

A glitch concerns us and surprises us. It makes us pause, rewind, and (re)view the experience again and again. The films in this programme do just that, transporting us to the universe of the pirate distribution of Taiwanese opera, exploring the erotic love between a ghost and a woman, postponing unfinished love stories until the year 2030 and much more. These narratives also reimagine worlds where the lives of the undocumented, the jobless, and the borderless can love freely, be grounded, and feel at home. Together these queer images, bodies, temporalities, and border crossings on screen reassemble our projections of desire onto the past, present, and future.

  • Titles: Taiwan Video Club (Dir. Lana Lin, US, 1999); I’m Starving (Dir. Yau Ching, US, Hong Kong, 1999); Castro (Dir. Tony (Chun Hui) Wu, US, Taiwan, 1996);  Looking for Jiro (Dir. TT Takemoto, US, 2011); LOVEME2030 (Dir. Shu Lea Cheang, Japan, France, 2005)

I Will Haunt You Forever: Queer Ghosts Across Time

This short film programme is composed of moving-image work and archival films that examine queer spectrality. Ghosts are already queer, existing beyond any binary divisions: ghosts are something we fear, yet we are attracted to. Ghosts transgress boundaries, existing between life and death, fear and grief, in the suspension of time. Haunting and its paths can’t help but speak to the way queer people in the past have been ghosts, haunting the histories they’ve been written out of.

  • Titles: Ghost Carnival (Dir. Qiu Miao-jin, Lin Hsu Wen-Er, Taiwan, 1994); Whispering Ghosts (Dir. Taiki Sakpisit, Thailand, 2008); River is My Hometown (Dir. River Cao, UK, 2021); In Our Being (Dir. Ghislan Sutherland-Timm & Jann Earl Q. Madariaga, Canada, Philippines, 2011); All Trace is Gone, No Clamour for a Kiss (Dir. Chris Zhongtian Yuan, UK, 2022)

Harvesting the Fruits of Monstrosity

In these works by queer Southeast and East Asian artists, the ‘monster’ figure is a rejection of assimilationist expectations to be normal, legible, or obedient. Whether chaotic or gentle, horny or yearning, haunting or shocking, these ‘monsters’ relish in the opportunities to reworld that being an outcast provides. Reconciling with the monstrosity within is catalysed into a beacon of dissenting hope, a chance for embodied catharsis, and a survival strategy towards liberation.

  • Titles: The Function of Fiction is the Abstraction and Simulation of Social Experience (Dir. Mac Andre Arboleda, Philippines, 2021); Wūûūwūûū (Dir. Rae-Yen Song, UK, 2021); I Am a Horse (Dir. Chaerin Im, South Korea, 2022); EARTHBODY(S)_BIOME(TRICS) (Dir. mirrored fatality, USA, 2022); Tentacle Eyes (Dir. Yuqing Lin, UK, 2023); Flesh Nest (Dir. Andrew Thomas Huang, USA, 2018); WHAT U WANNA DO (Dir. Jas Lin, USA, 2021); Bold Eagle (Dir. Whammy Alcarazen, Philippines, 2022); The Princess and the Magic Birds (Dir. Fuyuhiko Takata, Japan, 2021); Leave Britney Alone! (Dir. Fuyuhiko Takata, Japan, 2009)

Welcome to Neverland

Blurring boundaries between reality and fantasy, the filmmakers in this programme delve into weird and wonderful experiences that ignite the possibility of change: personal, political, and philosophical. To be queer is, literally, to be strange or odd, which here serves as a means of challenging cultural understandings of gender and sexuality. Through blood, fish scales, and sexy copies of Hegel’s oeuvre, the films in this collection make otherworldliness a point of pride.

  • Titles: Chomp It! (Dir. Mark Chua, Lam Li Shuen, Singapore, 2023); Wegen Hegel (Dir. Popo Fan, Germany, 2023); Mom, if I were a Vampire (Dir. Deborah Devyn Chuang, Taiwan, 2022); Fish Boy (Dir. Christopher Yip, Canada, 2023); Still Life (Dir. Sarah Kim, US, 2023); Their Universe (Dir Han Jeong-gil, South Korea, 2023)

Queer East Festival 2024 takes place 17 – 28 April across venues in London

Venues: BFI Southbank, Barbican Centre, ICA, Prince Charles Cinema, Genesis Cinema, Rio Cinema, Garden Cinema, Rich Mix, Ugly Duck, The Place, Hackney Wick Community Sauna and Museum of the Home

Just For You