Growing gay festival seeks wider audience

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 November, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 November, 2004, 12:00am

Higher social acceptance of homosexuals has contributed to the expansion of one of Asia's biggest gay and lesbian events, organisers say.

The annual Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival will begin on November 25, and organisers hope this year's programme will attract more interest from the general public. The festival will feature 59 screenings and five parties.

'We aim at a broader audience and show films that were popular at mainstream international film festivals,' said Karl Uhrich, festival director. 'In the past we only held parties at gay clubs but this year we have a party at Kee Club and another at the Fringe [Club]. We hope to cater to a broader community.'

He said that despite the lack of public funding, the scale of this year's programme was a lot bigger than in the past, largely because Hong Kong people were showing more tolerance of the gay community.

'Our event was first launched in 1989 and is the oldest of its kind in Asia. We feel that society is more accepting and we have more support ... But there's still a long way to go,' he said.

Tickets went on sale last week. Last year, 75 per cent of shows were sold out, and Mr Uhrich thinks tickets will sell even better this year.

The festival opens with Yan Yan Mak's Butterfly, which has just received a nomination in the best adapted script category of Taiwan's Golden Horse Film Awards. By screening this and other locally produced independent features such as Here Comes the Rainbow.1, the festival hopes to bring a local angle to the gay experience, said Mr Uhrich.

'We want to show a Hong Kong connection, how the gay and lesbian community is perceived here,' he said.

Here Comes the Rainbow.1 contains seven young directors' short films on gay, lesbian and bisexual issues.

Tickets cost $60 for screenings at Palace IFC and $55 for shows at Broadway Cinematheque.