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Thai films in the spotlight at Queer East Film Festival in London

The Iron Ladies

The third edition of the Queer East Film Festival is screening a wide range of Thai films until May 29 in cinemas across London, spanning over half-a-century from a 1950s black-and-white trans comedy to popular boys' love dramas.

The LGBTI festival is showcasing rarely-seen queer cinema from East and Southeast Asia to audiences in the United Kingdom. After highlighting Taiwan and Japan in two previous editions, this year's programme is turning to Thailand and its queer filmmaking, which receives little attention in the West.

It looks back at the oldest existing trans film, It's All Because Of A Katoey (1954), by the Ledger Group. It follows the beautiful protagonist who attracts male attention, but a string of events eventually exposes her identity. Manop Silapee donated this film and other amateur movies to the Thai Film Archive in 1993. They were produced by his uncle, Charlie Silapee.

The festival charts the development of subsequent queer classics, including The Iron Ladies (2000), Beautiful Boxer (2003), Love Of Siam (2007) and Yes Or No (2010). It also presents Anucha Boonyawatana's The Blue Hour (2015) and Malila: The Farewell Flower (2017), with the director taking part in its post-screening event.

Joining the programme is the miniseries I Told Sunset About You (2020). It is being screened on BFI Player as part of the festival's presence on the platform.

Directed by Naruebet Kuno, it is a coming-of-age series that, despite following the yaoi formula, portrays the complexity of teenage love and sexuality.

Yi Wang, festival and programme director, said in a press release that the festival "can play a role in combating stereotypical and generalised portrayals of queer Asians, and unlock the endless possibilities for bold, complicated, three-dimensional expressions of cinematic queerness".