Monthly Film Bulletin: GagaOOLala

By Miruna Tiberiu

 

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’s bulletin centres around the holiday season, with the enforced family time and tensions it comes with. Be it balancing a career over parenthood, the guilt experienced by second-generation immigrants, or intolerant parents meeting their son’s new boyfriend, these films all capture the holiday atmosphere in their own unique ways. Here are our recommendations.

 

Lucky Fish (2022) dir. Emily May Jampel

You find yourself in a Chinese restaurant, amidst a hilariously awkward family conversation. We are in Maggie’s shoes, as she is being interrogated by older family members about boyfriends and college options and why she has chosen to go to a ‘lesbian arts college’ instead of Hilary Clinton’s alma mater. Maggie can hardly concentrate on this conversation, though – a beautiful stranger sat across has caught her eye. Her name is Celine. They meet in the restaurant’s bathroom (of course they do) and start talking. Around the restaurant’s fish tank, they get to know each other. They bond over their Asian-American heritage, their hopes and fears in life, and the immense family pressure that has made them feel trapped, as if they were fish in a tank, one can add. Bringing out the sensory experience of a family microcosm – Nintendo sounds from younger siblings playing away as the ‘adults’ talk, or steaming bowls of rice you can almost smell – Emily May Jampel’s directorial debut portrays so poignantly the second-generation immigrant experience. Eager to please her family for the guilt of not giving back all they have given her as a child but feeling equally trapped in a gloomy future of ‘misery’, Maggie must choose if she really wants to finally take her future into her own hands.

Watch Lucky Fish here.

 

Hello, Stranger (2016) dir. Anthony Schatteman

Anthony Schatteman’s short is a family tale with a Hollywoodian flair. We follow Arthur, a single dad with a seven-year-old son called Arthur, who attempts to balance his paternal duties all whilst working on his blossoming career as a drag queen. Amidst the chaos, his ex-wife – Max’s mum – shows up, bringing with her memories that simmer in the fabric of the film, barely visible to the viewer though they are clear as day to Arthur himself. Between electrifying drag performances which submerge the viewer in the deep red hues and glimmering outfits of the stage, and heart-warming sequences in which Arthur asks his son what nail polish colour he would like to wear that day, or presents him to an imaginary audience as Miss Max whilst the young performer emerges with a beaming smile on his face, swerving his hips in a can-can-esque fashion, Hello, Stranger pulls out all stops. Bringing to light the most beautiful vignettes of queer parenting all whilst portraying the challenges that arise out of the parent-artist’s life, it is a film which steers clear from imposing any opinion. We leave the film’s world as we enter it: suddenly, viscerally, and wanting more.

Watch Hello, Stranger here.

 

Kimchi Fried Dumplings (2013) dir. Jason Karman

This Canadian short also tackles the experience of queer second-generation immigrants, from perhaps a more chaotic perspective. So many of us have experienced this story: the holiday comes, and the significant others of all family members must meet everyone. For the heterosexuals amongst us, this poses limited problems. For queer people, this time of year can often be painful. Tolerance cannot be forced, not even with the help of the holiday spirit. The film, however, takes an unexpected turn. What if, for fear of being rejected, you choose to ostracise yourself from your family, it seems to ask. Kimchi Fried Dumplings is a story of creeping slowly back into a family reunion, leaving aside such fears, and trying to connect again with those who have hurt you in the past. It is a story of forgiveness and communication, all around a plate of dumplings and roast turkey.

Watch Kimchi Fried Dumplings here.

 

If you liked the sound of these, check out more of what is on offer on GagaOOLala!  

 

Miruna Tiberiu is the Managing Editor of GAY45. She is a student at Cambridge University. Tiberiu has written for numerous publications, including The Cambridge Review of Books, and the Cambridge Language Collective. She is the co-founder and co-editor of Cambridge’s first all-queer magazine, Screeve. Tiberiu was longlisted for the International News Media Association (INMA)’s “30 Under 30” Awards 2023.

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