Gay cinema festival changes public’s view

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Gay cinema festival changes public’s view

Back in 1999, Park Gi-ho, the programmer for the Korea Queer Cultural Festival, was asked why he wanted to stage a gay film festival in Korea.
“They asked why now,” he says. “Is Korea ready to accept gay communities?”
Some people told Mr. Park the notion of a “festival” was too much, almost an indulgence, considering the harsh realities that some Korean gays faced.
Mr. Park went ahead as planned. Four years later, many would agree that the festival has changed the public’s perception about the gay community in Korea.
The film festival “Queers, Homos and Us,” which is part of the 2003 Queer Cultural Festival that opened last week in Seoul, kicks off Friday at the Cine Cube Theater. It runs through Sunday. As the title suggests, the festival intends to make people reconsider the names associated with gays in Korea and their fluctuating identities.
The festival will screen seven films, grouped as a mix of shorts and feature films.
A notable entry in the program is Jacqui North’s “Chrissy,” a startling documentary about a lesbian who was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 18, but didn’t reveal her illness to her family until eight years later. The film has logged the highest viewership of any documentary on Australian television, where it first aired on World AIDS Day in 1999.
“Salut Victor,” by the Canadian filmmaker Anne Claire Poirier, deals with an elderly gay couple who share secrets about their past in a nursing home. The film has been called a North American gay version of “Too Young to Die” for its frankness in addressing sexuality among elderly couples.
Unfortunately none of this year’s movies are made by Korean filmmakers. The selections are primarily experimental films from the United States and Canada. But perhaps that speaks about the marginalized situation of gay activism in Korea.

by Park Soo-mee

Admission to each film at the “Queers, Homos and Us” festival is 5,000 won. Screenings are at Cine Cube.
For more information, call 0505-336-2003 or check the festival’s Web site at www.kqcf.or.
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