Showing posts with label Gay Cinema. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Cinema. Show all posts

April 10, 2018

Asia's Out-Gay Icon Leslie Cheng is Dead But Kept Alive for the Last 15 years

This page published by the BBC
 For the past 15 years fans of tormented superstar Leslie Cheung, one of the first celebrities to come out as gay in Asia, have gathered at Hong Kong's Mandarin Oriental Hotel to mourn the day he took his own life. 
It's a poignant sign of why the daring and troubled star is still important today. 
One of Hong Kong's most popular male singers and actors of the mid-1980s, Leslie Cheung Kwok Wing was not afraid of provoking controversy with his overt sexuality and provocative performances during a more socially conservative era. 
And 15 years after his death, Cheung is still attracting new fans, including teenagers and millennials.
Lam, a 15-year-old who attended 1 April's vigil, was only a few months old when Cheung died. She told BBC Chinese she had "discovered him on YouTube".
"He was charismatic; especially when he went's gorgeous," she said.
Meanwhile, 25-year-old Wu travelled from Hunan province on mainland China with his boyfriend to mourn the icon.
Wu told BBC Chinese he drew strength from Cheung's "spirit of being true to oneself".
"He showed the [Chinese-speaking] world that gay people can be positive, bright and worthy of respect."

Christopher DoyleImage copyrightBBC CHINESE
Image captionCinematographer Christopher Doyle says Leslie was "not only a great singer or actor, but a rarely-seen true star"

Born in 1956, Leslie Cheung was one of Hong Kong's most famous stars during the golden era of Cantopop in the 1980s.
He was dashing, stylish and fitted the public idea of a perfect heterosexual male lover. But in reality, he was in a long-term relationship with his childhood friend, Daffy Tong. 
It was not an easy time to be gay. At that time, homosexuality was still viewed by many as an illness and abnormality in Hong Kong, especially after the emergence of the first local case of Aids in 1984. It was not until 1991 that adult gay sex was decriminalised in the territory.
"The LGBT movement in Hong Kong took off in the 1990s, when the community finally became visible to the public," Travis Kong, an associate professor of sociology researching gay culture at The University of Hong Kong, told BBC Chinese. 
And it was at this point that Cheung became more daring in his work. 

Cheung as an androgynous Peking Opera star in Farewell My ConcubineImage copyrightTOMSON (HK) FILMS CO., LTD. 
Image captionCheung as an androgynous Peking Opera star in Farewell My Concubine

He first came to international attention with his portrayal of Cheng Dieyi, the androgynous Peking Opera star, for the film Farewell My Concubine, which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1993. 
He went on to star in Happy Together directed by Wong Kar Wai - a gay cinema classic about a couple who struggle to find a peaceful co-existence.
"Happy Together is different. It is a stereotypical heterosexual romance, but played by two men," said Kit Hung, a Hong Kong director.
Meanwhile, Christopher Doyle, the renowned cinematographer who worked with Cheung on various Wong Kar Wai films, told BBC Chinese: "He was so beautiful. We both wanted to convey through my lens the most beautiful, sincerest side of him.
"He enters our imagination audaciously... always showing us better possibilities."

Leslie Cheung's waxwork at Madame Tussauds waxworks in Hong KongImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionLeslie Cheung is remembered both for his films and music performances - and even has his own waxwork at Madame Tussauds

On stage, Cheung unleashed a sexually fluid charm.  His defining queer performance came in a 1997 concert where he danced intimately with a male dancer to his song Red. He wore a black suit with a pair of sparkling crimson high-heels.
At that concert he dedicated a classic love song to the two "loves of his life", his mother and his partner Daffy Tong. This is seen as the moment he came out of the closet. Cheung did not proclaim his sexuality as such, but confessed his love for a man.

Collage of screenshots showing Leslie Cheung wearing red heelsImage copyrightROCK RECORDS
Image captionCheung wore his iconic pair of red high heels in a 1997 concert

"In the 1990s, at times a gay man was still called 'Aids man' and 'pervert'," says Mr Kong. "In a society so oppressive to the LGBT community, the coming out of such a renowned superstar had a huge effect on the general public."
Despite his success across Asia, there were many who did not appreciate this side of Cheung. 
At the 1998 Hong Kong Film Awards, Happy Together was mocked by comedians, who described it as a film that would make the audience vomit. A music video he directed, featuring him topless with a male ballet dancer, was also censored by major local TV channel TVB.

Exhibition: "Ambiguously Yours: Gender in Hong Kong Popular Culture"Image copyrightPAN LEI
Image captionCheung's versatile images on stage ignited controversies

In 2000 Leslie became the first Asian star to wear a tailor-made costume by French fashion master Jean-Paul Gaultier in a concert. With waist-length hair, clearly visible stubble and a muscular build, Cheung also wore tight transparent trousers and a short skirt. 
He ended the concert with his self-revealing ballad I. "The theme of my performance is this: The most important thing in life, apart from love, is to appreciate your own self," he explained.
"I won't hide, I will live my life the way I like under the bright light" he sang. "I am what I am, firelight of a different colour."
But he was dismissed as a "transvestite", "perverted" or "haunted by a female ghost" in local media. He would dismiss that criticism as superficial and short-sighted. 
He remains such an iconic figure in Hong Kong's awakening to LGBT issues that the Mandarin Oriental Hotel is even the first stop of a walking tour on the city's LGBT history.

Crowds at Mandarin Oriental on the 15th anniversary of Cheung's deathImage copyrightBBC CHINESE
Image captionCrowds at Mandarin Oriental on the 15th anniversary of Cheung's death
Fans recreated Cheung's signature crimson high heels in RosesImage copyrightBBC CHINESE
Image captionFans recreated Cheung's signature crimson high heels in Roses

It was from here that he jumped to his death on 1 April 2003 after a long struggle with depression. It was a shocking moment for the city, and a devastating moment for fans. 
Tens of thousands turned out to bid him farewell and at the funeral, his partner Daffy Tong assumed the role traditionally preserved for the surviving spouse, a profound, public recognition of their relationship. 
Never legally married, Mr Tong's was the first name listed on the family's announcement of Cheung's death, credited "Love of His Life".
Same-sex marriage or civil unions are still not legal in Hong Kong, but in the city's collective memory, Cheung and Tong are fondly remembered as an iconic, loving couple.

Daffy Tong, partner of Entertainer Leslie Cheung, looks at his waxwork unveiled at Madame Tussaud waxworks in Hong Kong, 31 March 2004. Leslie, Cheung one of Hong Kong's most acclaimed entertainers, leapt to his death 01 April 2003Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionDaffy Tong beside a waxwork of Leslie Cheung at Madame Tussauds in Hong Kong

Hong Kong still lacks anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT communities but queer identity and sexual fluidity are no longer so taboo and are part of the social landscape. 
Last year a museum in Hong Kong held an exhibition "Ambiguously Yours: Gender in Hong Kong Popular Culture". The first exhibit visitors encountered upon entering the venue was a pair of sparkling crimson high-heels - the pair Cheung wore performing Red in 1997.
"The highest achievement for a performer is to embody both genders at the same time," Cheung once proclaimed: "For art itself is genderless."
If you are feeling emotionally distressed and would like details of organisations which offer advice and support, click here. In the UK you can call for free, at any time, to hear recorded information on 0800 066 066. In Hong Kong you can get help here.

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November 30, 2016

Star Trek{Discovery} Adds Gay Character and Other Surprises

The lock on the secrecy surrounding Star Trek: Discovery is finally starting to loosen, and new casting and character announcements have started hitting the web. In addition to confirmation of Michelle Yeoh's casting, two new cast members have been added to the highly anticipated show, one of whom will be making franchise history. Star Trek Discovery has cast Anthony Rapp as the first originally conceived gay character is the history of Star Trek in TV or film.

Anthony Rapp, star of films like Dazed and Confused and Rent, will be playing Lieutenant Stamets, an "astromycologist, fungus expert, and Starfleet Science Officer" aboard the titular starship Discovery. Stamets will also be an openly gay character, a first for the 50-year-old franchise. Former showrunner Bryan Fuller,who still holds executive producer duties, had previously said that there would "absolutely be a gay character on the show," and had expressed how far gay rights had come since his days working on Star Trek: Voyager.
While Rapp will be playing the first gay character to be originally conceived that way, he will not be the first gay character ever. Star Trek Beyond made headlines earlier this year when it revealed that its iteration of the classic Trek character Sulu is gay. This proved to be a controversial move with some franchise vets happy with the decision, while others didn't like changes being made to an established character. Original Sulu actor George Takei, who is gay himself, was of the latter opinion, believing that it would be "more impactful" to introduce an all new gay character who could be "fleshed out from scratch." Enter Lieutenant Stamets.
doug jones
Lieutenant Stamets won't be the only officer on board the Starship Discovery, as character actor Doug Jones was also announced to be joining the show. Jones will be playing Lieutenant Saru, an alien official whose species will be all new to the Star Trek universe. Jones is no stranger to disguising himself on set. He's held a number of makeup heavy roles such as HellboyPan's Labyrinth, and Falling Skies, to name just a few.
It was also confirmed that Michelle Yeoh has joined the cast, having previously been rumored to be playing a high-ranking officer. That is indeed the case, as Yeoh will be playing Captain Georgiou, the Starfleet Captain aboard the Starship Shenzhou, and not the Discovery leader that some were hoping.
These are just three characters, and there are plenty of more positions to be filled aboard the Starship Discovery and other ships. The show still hasn't announced the lead character, reported to be a female lieutenant, so plenty of more casting news is sure to come. Stick with CinemaBlend for all your Star Trek: Discovery news as we wait for the show’s 2017 premiere on CBS All Access.

Matt Wood
Posted on
Cinema Blend

October 25, 2016

“U little bitches” Slater Competes f0r th0Se Sex SceneS with Franc0

                                           U little bitches!

James Franco is arguably the hardest working man in Hollywood. Not only is he regularly appearing as an actor in other people's work but he's writing, directing, and producing seven projects that are in various stages of production, too. So when Christian Slater was cast to star opposite James Franco in the crime thriller King Cobra, which revolves around the rise and fall of gay porn star Brent Corrigan, he knew that he'd have his work cut out matching his fellow actor. But this only brought out the competitive side of Slater, especially when it came to the more intimate scenes in the movie.
According to Page Six, Christian Slater made this admission at a Q&A before the recent premiere of King Cobra, revealing that he decided to improvise while filming some of the gay sex scenes so that he could have his moment, and to stop James Franco from usurping him. Christian Slater recalled:  
James was going to be doing the lion's share of the sexual aspects [of the film] and then I got competitive... We even improv'd some stuff. OK, I'll stop --- but yeah, great direction!

Justin Kelly, who wrote and directed King Cobra, which is based on Andrew E. Stoner and Peter A. Conway's novel Cobra Killer, found the time to elaborate on Christian Slater's improvisation during some of the film's more intimate scenes. During one particular moment between Slater and Garrett Clayton, who plays gay porn star Brent Corrigan in King Cobra, Kelly explained that Slater "pushes him up against the closet door" in a scene that wasn't written or planned. In King CobraSlater can even be seen wearing a facial to prepare for his scene. Not that kind of facial you sexual minded reprobate. This kind:
Christian Slater
King Cobra sees Christian Slater star as Stephen, a gay porn producer who discovers the young stud Brent Corrigan (Garrett Clayton), and looks to turn him into a bona-fide gay porn star. However aspiring producers Joe (James Franco) and Harlow (Keegan Allen) try to buy Brent's contract so that they can make their own movies with the actor, which is obviously something that Stephen is against. This, as you probably guessed, leads to some issues between the group.
King Cobra is based on real-life events that if you research will give away some of the pivotal points of the film. Instead, just take a look at its trailer below, which suggests that it's a merging of Boogie Nights and _Spring Breakers.
         Gregory Wakeman
         Cinema Blend

November 10, 2015

Actor Playing Aaron in Walking Dead, Shocked at Negative Reaction to Gay Character


Aaron was introduced to viewers as the first gay character to appear in The Walking Dead but actor Ross Marquand reveals he was shocked by the abundance of negative responses he received over the role. However, the TV star admits he was "grateful" for the opportunity to bring attention to the issue.

Marquand, 34, began playing the Alexandrian resident in season five and the character has become a good friend to other survivors including Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixon. Explaining the public response to his role as a gay man, Marquand told the IBTimes UK: "It's been a bit mixed. On one hand, we've had very negative [responses]. But for as many negative responses, there were just as many, if not more, fans who were coming to the defence of not only Aaron but the LGBT community in general, which is really lovely to see."

He continued: "I think at first I was really shocked by the response and kind of baffled as to why people would be writing such vitriolic comments, but as time went on I was actually grateful because it sparked a debate. I think when people can talk openly about social issues, you never think your work is going to have a great social impact and then it does. It's nice to see that."

So far in season six of the hit zombie series, viewers have seen Ross discover that he may have been responsible for the Wolves finding the Alexandria safe zone, which resulted in a brutal attack on the community. Addressing his character's guilt, Marquand said: "There's a distinct possibility that even though Aaron didn't draw up the directions to Alexandria, somehow the Wolves managed to put the pieces together by looking at those photos.
"That ultimately drove them to the community in the first place. There's a massive responsibility that he feels squarely placed on his shoulders and the guilt will drive him throughout the season and the responsibility for what he's done indirectly or directly. He wants to make amends."

Viewers were thrilled with the action when the Wolves attacked Alexandria in episode two and Marquand admits it was pretty chaotic on set. The actor revealed: "I only had a few days on that episode, but even for those few episodes that I was there, it was insane. We had so many moving parts and this ever-present horn blaring first until he gets taken off the wheel when Morgan dispatches that walker, but it was insane.

"It was just utter chaos and of course, people don't know this, but Alexandria is a working community already so there's people who live there in real life. Often times we'd be shooting these crazy fight sequences and the PA will get a call and they'd have to stop production so someone could drive through and get their groceries. It was nuts but you just have all of these insanely talented stunt people falling around, leaping and doing insane stuff.”

December 5, 2014

Gay Cinema still stuck and fixated in the past } WHY?


The director Stefan Haupt was born in Zürich. “I always thought I knew the history of my city quite well,” he says. “But it turns out I didn’t know this story at all. It isn’t really known in Switzerland.” This story is about an early gay-rights group called the Circle, which is also the title of Haupt’s new film – one of a growing number of features putting stories from the LGBTQ archives up on the big screen.
The Circle (or Der Kreis in German) was one of the world’s first organisations dedicated to lesbian and gay rights. Originating in 1932, it aimed to offer reassurance, support and education to homosexuals – first through its magazine, then through a social club – as well as gently lobbying for reform. Unusually for a European country, Switzerland did not outlaw homosexuality, and its neutrality ensured that the Circle, unlike other European gay groups, survived the war. By 1956, when Haupt’s film begins, it had around 2,000 subscribers, and an international membership of about 700, making it the biggest organisation of its kind worldwide.
The film introduces us to the world of the Circle through the character of Ernst Ostertag (Matthias Hungerbühler), a middle-class trainee teacher, who attends one of the group’s legendary costume balls. There, he meets teenage drag queen Röbi Rapp (Sven Schelker). As the pair begin a tentative romance, Ernst grows more politically active; meanwhile, a murder draws attention to gay subculture in general and the Circle in particular, sparking a reactionary social, media and police backlash.

The film evocatively recreates this true story through the conventional trappings of period drama, such as judicious production design and appropriate music. But it adds an extra dimension by intercutting these scenes with documentary material, most notably – spoiler alert! – interviews with Ernst and Röbi, who remain happily partnered to this day. It was a strategy spurred by financial necessity – the film’s producers couldn’t secure funding to complete an entirely dramatic feature as planned – but the resulting hybrid is a powerful document of a neglected period of gay history with much to tell us about today.
In some ways, it is not surprising that the story of the Circle is unfamiliar. “At that time, most of the members were happy if it was not well known,” Haupt says. Even if homosexuality was technically legal in Switzerland, “they had to be undercover. They had to be discreet. Then they were in the newspapers but hated it, then time went on and the flower power generation came and it got forgotten. Later, being gay became a huge subject with Aids – but that was the subject, not looking back in history. Then registered partnerships and being accepted into society was a big question. Now I get the feeling many younger gay people in Zürich really love to party but not think about the past so much.”
Films such as The Circle redress that sense of collective amnesia. There has recently been something of a backward turn in LGBTQ film-making – a surge of interest in stories about the past, realised through period dramas, documentaries about queer subjects, or on-screen depiction of older LGBTQ people. (The Circle combines all three approaches.) As Haupt suggests, gay art and activism have often focused on crisis management and the pursuit of legal equality. Those battles aren’t over, but significant progress has been made, and now there also seems to be room to take a breath and look back.

Director Stefan Haupt
 Director Stefan Haupt with his film’s subjects, Ernst Ostertag (left) and Röbi Rapp. Photograph: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

This can offer a chance to celebrate hard-won victories in accessible ways. Gus Van Sant’s 2008 feature Milk lovingly canonised activist politician Harvey Milk through the universal language of the mainstream biopic, while this year’s Pridetold the distinctly queer story of the 1980s alliance between LGBTQ campaigners and striking miners through that most British of forms, the sleeves-up, in-it-together social comedy. Such approaches affirm the idea that gay and lesbian progress is part of the universal story of our nations’ social history. This might well be the approach taken by Roland Emmerich in his forthcoming feature Stonewall, about the notorious 1969 riot, expected next year. 
For all their heartache, then, these films generally leave us with the reassuring sense that things have got better – and, of course, with a richer, more informed understanding of how that change has come about. But dangers remain. Many stories remain unacknowledged; all the titles above focus on white men, for instance. And even within those bounds, there is the risk that, even if mainstream hostility to alternative sexualities declines, they are still seen as fundamentally other. Haupt, who is straight, is “disappointed to see how many of my friends tell me: ‘You know, I heard very     good things about your film but I don’t know if I need to see it. After all, it’s about a gay subject, isn’t it?’ As if gay people would never watch a love story between a man and a woman. There’s still a big difference between tolerance and acceptance.”
Of course, those who are still considered alien are particularly vulnerable when a weakened society starts looking for scapegoats. As well as encouraging universal empathy and informing younger LGBTQ generations of their heritage, period stories such as The Circle – or the recent film Tattoo Nation, about a queer performance collective crushed by conservative authorities in 70s Brazil, or indeed the classic Weimar-set musical Cabaret – remind us that social change is not always progressive.
Not that LGBTQ-themed period dramas are simply feelgood celebrations. Far from it – most have a bittersweet tone at best. Milk ends in its hero’s martyrdom, while our knowledge of the unions’ defeat and the advent of Aids casts a shadow over Pride. Pictures such as 1987’s Maurice, 1998’s Wilde, 2005’s Brokeback Mountain or 2009’s A Single Man, meanwhile, invite us to empathise with the crushing social repression under which their gay protagonists labour even as they imply the easing of such burdens in recent years
 A Single Man, meanwhile, invite us to empathise with the crushing social repression under which their gay protagonists labour even as they imply the easing of such burdens in recent years.

The Circle club scene
 In the club: a scene from The Circle.

In the Zürich of The Circle, snooping landladies, bigoted employers, social prejudice and the risk of blackmail and violence are endemic even when legal tolerance is in place. When the situation deteriorates, the group struggles: tensions develop between younger, more militant members and an old guard committed to a gently-gently approach that proves (to quote Malcolm Tucker) as useless as a marzipan dildo. Reactionary crackdowns often take vulnerable groups by surprise – especially if they don’t know their own past.
“This film reminds gays of today that they have a history worth knowing about, that they have roots down to generations before,” the real-life Ostertag and Rapp tell me by email. “The knowledge of such roots helps keep up today the same demand for equal rights and protection from discrimination. See what has happened in Putin’s Russia and is getting worse. See what is going on in various African states. We homosexuals will always be a minority. Our freedom and acceptance is never guaranteed. We cannot rest. It is a good fight. The whole society is a better society when its minorities are not forgotten and suppressed. That is one of the messages of the film.” What other message does it have? “Love
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