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Dr Ting Guo, who is part of a new research project examining the impact of queer films shown covertly in China on the development of LGBT+ culture and rights.

Experts to explore impact of queer films shown covertly to LGBT communities in China

Experts will examine the impact of queer films shown covertly in China on the development of LGBT+ culture and rights in the country as part of a new research project.

Although homosexuality was removed from the list of mental disorders in 2001 by China's Ministry of Health, LGBT+ people continue to suffer discrimination and harassment. Media portraying homosexual and transgender topics have been strictly censored, and this has suppressed the development of domestic queer cinema.

Despite this English-language international queer cinema, translated, is shown at events such as the Shanghai Pride film festival, Shanghai Queer Festival, Beijing Queer Film Festival and the China Queer Independent Film Tour, as well as social events organized by Chinese LGBT+ organizations.

The project is led by Dr Ting Guo, from the University of Exeter and Dr Jonathan Evans, from the University of Portsmouth.

Dr Guo said: “We want to find out how unofficial translation and dissemination of Anglophone queer films has become part of and influenced the development of the LGBT+ rights movement and culture in China.

“Several Chinese LGBT+ online communities and apps, including subtitling groups, have been closed down due to strengthening of censorship in China. A lot of important information regarding these communities and the influence of Anglophone queer films on China's LGBT+ movement is going to be lost. In light of this, our research is urgent and of crucial importance.”

Researchers will collaborate with Aibai, a non-profit Chinese organization aiming at promoting equal rights for the LGBT+ community, QAFONE and Jihua Network, two of the most influential Chinese LGBT+ subtitling groups to examine their role in the translation and dissemination of the films.

The work will help producers of queer films to be more aware of the wider reception of their work and help them explore new collaborations for promoting and screening their work in China.

International LGBT+ organisations, especially UK film festival organisers will be able to adapt and use the findings as they plan events involving translated foreign-language films.

Researchers will discuss their study with local Chinese LGBT+ communities at three seminars organized in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. There will also be an exhibition at the University of Exeter’s Bill Douglas Cinema Museum and an international conference on queer cinema and international LGBT+ movements.

Dr Guo said: “This project will deepen our understanding of the link between global and local queer cinematic culture and reveal the trends and complexities in the circulation of queer-related knowledge via film. Our research will provide valuable information about how new digital media technologies enable new possibilities for Chinese queer culture.”

Date: 8 March 2019

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