The Taiwan Film Festival is bringing some of the country’s best queer cinema offerings to Sydney to celebrate Taiwan’s landmark same-sex marriage ruling.

In May, Taiwan became the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage, with over 1,000 couples reported to have tied the knot by June.

From July 25 to July 28, film lovers will have a chance to experience some of Taiwan’s best LGBTQI filmmaking in cinemas.

With support and recognition from the government, more and more filmmakers in Taiwan are willing to come out and tell the stories of being an LGBTQI person.

The River, directed by  gay Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-Liang, is set in a rapidly modernizing Taipei and won the Special Jury Prize at the 1997 Berlin Film Festival.

The film perfectly portrays the brutal isolation and seething desire of Hsiao-Kang and his parents; his father seeks out sexual encounters with men in bathhouses, while his mother is having an affair with a pornographer.

Lee Kang-Sheng, who has starred in every one of Tsai’s feature films, plays Hsiao-Kang, who begins experiencing chronic neck pain after swimming in a polluted river.

The River features many motifs which recur regularly in Tsai’s films, from his patient, minimalist directorial style, to rain flooding apartments, and repressed, often dysfunctional sexual desires.

Tsai has been ranked by The Guardian as the 18th best director working today, and has made numerous acclaimed films, from his debut Rebels of the Neon God, to arthouse musical The HoleGoodbye Dragon Inn, and his 2013 masterpiece exploring homelessness and isolation, Stray Dogs.

Screening alongside The River on July 27 is short film Fish Tank, made at the Golden Horse Film Academy.

Fish Tank tells the story of when a family deciding to reunite one last time, with the husband unexpectedly bringing his male partner back to the house.

Fish Tank has been described as powerful, emotional and touching, and you shouldn’t miss out on this rare opportunity to watch both films on the big screen.

For those outside Sydney interested in discovering more Taiwanese LGBTQI stories, the 2018 film Dear Ex is also now available to stream on Netflix.

The film follows a teenager who becomes in the middle of a feud between his mother his deceased father’s boyfriend.

Also screening at the Taiwan Film Festival is Tsai Ming-liang’s newest film Your Face, as well as a range of other films offering a cinematic snapshot at both contemporary and traditional Taiwan.

To buy tickets for The River, click here.

To view the full program, head to the Taiwan Film Festival’s website.

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