GagaOOLala is a Taiwan-based streaming service which aims to bring together queer stories of all genres from around the world. As the first LGBT-focused media platform in Asia, GagaOOLala curates feature films, shorts, documentaries and series from the past few years, as well as producing its own original content. This month, the platform has partnered with the British Council to show the ‘Five Film for Freedom’ short film selection, which also premiered at this year’s BFI Flare LGBT+ Film Festival. In line with the partnership, this month’s film bulletin is dedicated to the world of queer short cinema!
Our first pick forms part of the ‘Five Films for Freedom’ series itself. South Korean short film Butch Up! follows Mi-hae, a butch music artist who finds themselves so heartbroken that they are unable to keep singing. They decide to leave their ‘soft boy’ romantic folk singer persona behind as they are kicked out of the band, finding solace in a new music scene, that of riot grrl-inspired punk. Part camp comedy, part musical, the film captures how heartbreak can change the art you consume and produce. It also stars Choi Hae-jun, who also appeared in the award-winning queer film PEAFOWL which received its international premiere at this year’s BFI Flare.
Watch Butch Up! here.
This French-Japanese collaboration tells the story of Claire, a journalist who has come to Tokyo to cover the titular erotic art form, following one of its most prominent artists. The artist-muse dynamic, made famous in queer cinema by Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, here takes a sensual turn, as the film reveals to us, through breath-taking visual sequences dripping in deep red and blue hues, the intricacies of shibari. Spoken language takes a backseat from the moment Claire enters the studio and is told to keep quiet, allowing the corporeal language of shibari, the tying of a partner using thin ropes, or the silent aftercare following this process, to take over. Unfazed by the language barrier, our two leads communicate in this way, building a two-way trust with their bodies.
Watch Shibari here.
One of the only Romanian LGBT+ short films to date, Ionut and Calin ‘queers’ the Romanian New Wave film world. Two men, the titular Ionut and Calin, meet by chance after having recently broken up, sending them both down a spiral of memories of their past shared life, the effects of mental illness on their relationship, their heart-wrenching breakup, as well as the love that lingers despite the trials their relationship has undergone. Set almost entirely in the cramped kitchen of an urban apartment block, the film steers clear of sensationalising the ‘oppressed’ queer experience in the former Eastern Bloc, instead telling a tight, complex relationship drama centring on a cycle of love, loss, and domestic tensions that make up modern-day love.
Watch Ionut and Calin here.
If you liked the sound of these, check out more of what is on offer on GagaOOLala!
Article by Miruna Tiberiu
Miruna Tiberiu is the managing editor of GAY45. She is an undergraduate student at Cambridge University. She has written for numerous publications, including The Cambridge Review of Books, and the Cambridge Language Collective. She is also the co-founder and co-editor of Cambridge’s first all-queer magazine, Screeve. Miruna is currently in Paris carrying out her dissertation research on Franco-Romanian cinema and hopes to continue this work as a postgraduate at Cambridge. To keep up with her work, follow her on Instagram or Twitter @mirunii_t.