High-schoolers make an unlikely Chinese film on the life of a transgender child

Team of 37 youngsters produces, directs and stars in movie designed to raise public awareness of ‘widely ignored’ group

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 July, 2017, 8:18pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 July, 2017, 9:39pm

A group of high school students in Beijing has made a film about the life of a transgender boy in a bid to raise public awareness of the issue, local media reported.

The 75-minute production, titled Flee, tells the story of Zhang Wangan, a high school-age boy who thinks of himself as a girl, as he tries to come to terms with his emotions with the help of his friends, Beijing Youth Daily reported.

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The film, which took about a year to make, not only starred but was directed and produced by 37 pupils from the international division of the High School affiliated to Renmin University of China, the report said.

Hu Ranran, its director, was quoted as saying that she wanted to make a film about LGBT – lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender – issues as she felt they were widely ignored by society.

“Our generation has acquired more knowledge and explored this field due to a change in the educational environment, but many people still do not know there is such a group of people,” she said.

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Hu and three classmates launched the project last year after completing their applications to foreign universities. With no budget to work with, they prepared the equipment, costumes and locations themselves. About 70 per cent of the film was shot on school grounds, the report said.

Hu said that she watched a lot of LGBT-themed films and documentaries, and spoke to several transgender people to help her create an authentic script. The lead actor, Zhang Yuge, also faced the challenge of wearing women’s clothes and makeup, and learning to behave like a woman, the report said.

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While the school’s authorities allowed the film to be shot on its grounds – the inspiration for the project had also partly come from discussions in a psychology class – because of its sensitive subject matter, they did not select it to be shown at the school film festival.

“It’s still a topic that parents are embarrassed to talk about, including my parents,” Hu was quoted as saying. “After they saw the movie they talked about shooting and acting, but not this topic.”

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While several clips from the film have been shared online it is not clear how long they might be available. Recently, the China Netcasting Services Association announced new regulations banning online videos from showing anything classified as an “abnormal sexual relationship”.