Thursday, June 9, 2016

Notes on Inside the Chinese Closet (2016) or why where you see a film at a festival will effect what you think of it Human Rights Watch Film Festival

The order you see a film in a festival will affect how you react to it. I saw INSIDE THE CHINESE CLOSET last and it greatly lessened the experience. It was by a wide margin the one film with the lowest stakes of any film in the festival, whether or not one's parents were happy. Yes I know its more complex than that but that's what it felt like.

INSIDE THE CHINESE CLOSET is about the choices that LGBT young adults in China are forced to make as they explore in name only marriages, adopting children and other means with dealing with familial and societal expectations. Its about trying to work out who they are are really and who they are going to please.

Ultimately the film failed for me because I never really felt for the plight of most of the people in the film since the stakes seem very low. Here are a bunch of seemingly well off young Chinese, not living with their parents who are struggling to find ways to make their lives appear to be normal to make their parents feel happy. Yes it's  tough, but coming as the last of ten films I saw as part of the HRWFF it's the most inconsequential.

Consider that in the festival's opening night film, and the other film set in China,  HOOLIGAN SPARROW. Sparrow was forced to move from her home for speaking out about the rape of several school girls and then had all her world possessions unceremoniously dumped on the side of the road. Sparrow was also beaten and thrown in jail for trying to shine a light on corruption and wrong doing. Compared to that what the people in CHINESE CLOSET is small potatoes.

This shouldn't be taken in anyway to lessen the plight of LGBT people in China, rather that after 9 films filled with graphic and implied nastiness this film is almost to sedate. I'm sure that had this been the first film screened it would have been more affecting.

For tickets and more information go here.

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