I have been a part of this film festival since 2005. The former Director of HKLGFF, Denise Tang, invited me to assist in designing the guidebook, organizing parties and fundraising. There were not many big LGBT events back then; HKLGFF was the only one in town. Since then, we have grown bigger, stronger and better.

I’ve written many forewords for this festival, but sitting down to write this one has been a difficult task considering the current events in Hong Kong. They have overwhelmed me.

What’s more, I have a copy of the 2005 HKLGFF guidebook in front of me as I type this. That year the theme was OPEN UP. It got me thinking: how much has Hong Kong opened up since 2005? Where is the Hong Kong LGBT community standing now, 15 years later? I hope you will join me in considering these thoughts as we enjoy this wonderful festival together.

Because your opinion matters to us, last year, we did an HKLGFF online survey. One of the things that stood out was a demand for more comedy, and we heard you loud and clear! This year, we have specially selected opening films guaranteed to make you laugh: a French gay comedy called The Shiny Shrimps and Bollywood’s first lesbian film, a rom-com called How I Felt When I Saw That Girl. Our closing film, My Big Gay Italian Wedding, is the ultimate feel-good comedy. We are also screening a few more comedies and romance features in our Panorama section if you want to have a laugh and feel even more of the love.

Something that makes HKLGFF stand out from other LGBT film festivals is our focus on Asian film. As the longest running LGBT film festival in Asia, we feel that it’s our responsibility to do so. This year, we have two Centrepiece films, one from Vietnam — the award-winning Song Long — and another from Korea, called Between The Seasons. We highly recommend catching these; each director will attend the screening of their film to introduce their movie.

This year is our 30th anniversary, which is why we have included a Hong Kong Retrospective in the programme. This includes three Hong Kong feature films: Yang and Yin: Gender in Chinese Cinema, A Woman is A Woman, and Butterfly, as well as a short film called My Way.

It has always been an important part of our mission to give a platform to rising talent. That’s why this year, we opened up online submissions for short films, giving more budding filmmakers in Asia and beyond the chance to showcase their work at the festival. We have had more and more short film submissions over the years, and now
we even have a Jury Award to give away to one gifted filmmaker.

Outside the cinema, we are hosting the second Asia Pacific Queer Film Festival Alliance panel at Eaton Hotel on 8 Sept 2019. The presenters are from the Taiwan International Queer Film Festival, Equal Ground Sri Lanka and Pakistan’s Aks International Minorities Festival. Do come along and show your support at this free event, I hope you enjoy our film selection this year, and hope to see you there.

Joe Lam
Film Festival Director