Five great LGBT-themed movies from Taiwan, model of openness in Asia

In the week that Taiwan’s highest court made history by approving same-sex marriage, we look back at five films with lesbian, gay or bisexual themes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 May, 2017, 6:17pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 May, 2017, 6:25pm

Taiwan’s top court made history this week by ruling in favour of same-sex marriage – the first Asian territory to do so. Taiwanese society has long been at ease with alternative sexuality, as reflected by these five great LGBT-themed films by Taiwanese directors.

The Wedding Banquet (1993)

Long before his modern classic Brokeback Mountain, Taiwanese-American filmmaker Ang Lee made his international breakthrough with this enthralling family dramedy, about a New York-based gay man who stages a sham marriage in order to please his conservative Chinese parents.

The River (1997)

A homoerotic undercurrent runs through this utterly bleak film by art-house icon Tsai Ming-liang. An award winner in Berlin, this surreal family drama – featuring a patriarch who frequents Taipei’s gay saunas – doubles as a symbolic portrait of the contaminated lives of urban dwellers.

Blue Gate Crossing (2002)

Teen romances don’t get more delicate than this coming-of-age movie, which launched both Gwei Lun-mei and Chen Bolin’s careers. An innocent love triangle complicated by ambiguous sexual orientations, this is one of Taiwan’s best-known films – LGBT-themed or otherwise.

Eternal Summer (2006)

Another love triangle among three high-school friends emerges in this sensual drama, which established Joseph Chang Hsiao-chuan’s heartthrob status. Chang and Blue Gate Crossing star Gwei were to cross paths in the 2012 film Girlfriend Boyfriend, again contemplating sexual preferences.

Thanatos, Drunk (2015)

A multiple-award winner at the Golden Horse Film Festival and the Taipei Film Festival, this sorrowful drama by Taiwanese auteur Chang Tso-chi is a slow-burning piece of poetic realism about a young Taipei man, his gay brother and their sexually ambiguous gigolo friend.

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