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Under the heading of “Explode Your Expectations” the British Film Institute (BFI) is back with its 26th Lesbian & Gay Film Festival from March 23-April 1, 2012.

Before we get to the details, can I just take a moment to complain? Although the BFI screens great films and does laudable work with its archive, their festival calendars – whether for this festival or others – are in dire need of improvement. Only the film title (and only in English) plus a one-sentence synopsis are given. No original title. No country. No director. Of course, I can search the website with keywords, but I just find this very impractical when I am trying to find films from specific countries. Or even if I scan the whole programme and want some more information, I’ve got to type it into the search box because they’ve decided that everything has to be frozen into a .pdf file rather than providing active links.

Anyhow, as far as I can determine, the East Asian entries on the programme this year are (original title added by me of course, since film festivals rarely bother with this):

Boku-ra no Mirai

  • 无言 (Wu Yan/Speechless, Hongkong/China, 2012) – “The past comes back to haunt a mysterious young man found by a river in a small town in China in this assured thriller.” More on the film here – the longer synopsis actually sounds intriguing. [Don’t quote me on the original title. I think that’s what it is, based on the scribbles at the end of the trailer. I’ve tried to confirm it with all kinds of googling tricks, but I can’t say I’m 100% sure since none of the filmographies for director Simon Chung (钟德胜) seem to include it yet.]

There is no feature-length entry from Korea – too bad, it would have been nice to see 창피해 (Chang-pi-hae/Life is Peachy, Korea, 2011), among other options. Perhaps next year? However, a Korean-themed short is included and will screen alongside six other pieces as part of the Domestic Revolutions feature:

  • Cross Your Fingers (UK, 2011) – Although the short (17 min) has a website, there is little information about it available. The story: “[t]wo Korean girls – one a quiet Christian and the other a fearless punk – fall in love in Brixton.” There were obviously some Koreans involved in the project, but one of the leads looks distinctly non-Korean (unless she’s perhaps a half-Korean?) and, with the film having been made and being set in the UK, I am guessing that its production language might be English as well.

Domestic Revolutions also has a Japanese segment:

  • Tsuyako」 (Japan/USA, 2011) – This wonderful-looking short (30 min) has won a number of awards and previously screened at Raindance 2011. Interestingly, the original title seems to come in Romaji only. Synopsis: “In postwar Japan, Tsuyako, a factory worker and mother, must decide between duty and love, her family and her freedom.” There is an official website, which has plenty of info, including a trailer. An alternate, but shorter trailer (with subtitles) is here.

「Tsuyako

Of course, there are more than just Asian films that are worth watching:

  • Noordzee, Texas (North Sea Texas, Belgium, 2011) – For the festival’s closing night gala “[a]n assured and beautiful story about the passionate longing of adolescence” is on the programme, but tickets are only available by ballot for BFI members. That means you need to have luck on your side plus a BFI membership, which is, at £40 per year, rather costly.