Queer East Festival to shine light on queer East and South East Asian film

Brian Butler April 11, 2024

Lead Pic: Lovebound

Founded in response to the systemic lack of East and South East Asian representation on stage, screen and behind the scenes, the Queer East Festival was formed in 2020 and has earned its place as a premier LGBTQ+ film festival.

Its events this year are across London from 17 – 28 April and then later in the year across the UK. Its programme includes the 20th anniversary screening of Chinese-American romantic comedy Saving Face, and the 50th anniversary screening of the once-considered lost Japanese film Bye Bye Love.

Bye Bye Love

The opening gala at the Barbican screens the coming-of-age A Song Sung Blue (China 2023), which follows 15-year-old Xian as she experiences a summer she will never forget, due to an infatuation with another girl.

The closing gala, at BFI Southbank, features Bye Bye Love, which follows young Utamaro and Giko on a doomed road trip through Japan.

The rest of the festival spans 57 years of film making and 10 countries, including I Am What I Am (Japan 2022), about a young asexual woman in a world where love rules supreme. Saving Face (USA 2024), which explores a complex mother/daughter relationship, where Wil is a lesbian in love with dancer Vivian.


Asog (Philippines 2023) has documentary and feature film mixed, and it’s billed as a screwball tragi-comedy about typhoon survivor non-binary teacher and comedian Jaya, who tries to win a beauty pageant.

Summer Vacation has androgynous female actors playing boys in a boarding school where a pupil has died.

Sara (Indonesia 2023), which has a stunning performance from trans actress Asha Smara Darra, follows a trans woman returning to her village to attend her father’s funeral.

If It’s With You

If It’s With You (Japan 2023) follows two schoolboys whose relationship develops into something unexpected. Immersive events, workshops and even an event Steamy Intimacies, at Hackney Wick Community Sauna Baths are on the programme. Short films and dance programmes mean this is more than just your standard film season here. 

Ticket information HERE