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Thu, Feb 15


TEDDY goes to China
Guest Column by Torsten Neuendorff

If the students of Beijing wouldn’t demand a Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, the authorities couldn’t relocate it to the outskirts. This happened two years ago, when the University didn’t want the second Gay & Lesbian Film Festival to take place on the Campus and therefore moved it to an art-gallery far away. On the other hand, China opens up to other movies. For the first time, the Censorship authority approved the new James Bond movie and it was shown nationwide uncut and uncensored. “Casino Royal” is probably going to be one of the most successful foreign movies of all time. “Brokeback Mountain” however didn’t pass the Censorship authority and is not one of the 20 international movies a year that get approved.

As big as the differences when it comes to movies are the differences between the different regions of the country which I experienced in a subtle way when I was looking for Chinese movies on the Berlinale website. I was quite surprised to find China in the list of countries all the way at the end, because it is listed under “P” for People’s Republic of China. Hong Kong and Taiwan are listed together with China. When the Taiwanese discovered that their country was listed in connection with China, they sent an official letter of protest to the Berlinale.

Video: Andrea Winter interviews Fengran

In inverse proportion to the size of China stands the amount of different movies. Taiwan shows “Spider Lilies”. Hong Kong co-produced “Eye in the Sky”, “Getting Home” and “Lost in Beijing”. The Chinese Censorship however made it difficult for the Competition-movie “Lost in Beijing” and approved it only after five scenes had been changed. Dieter Kosslick, managing director of the Berlinale had to explain that to the cultural commission of the German Bundestag [lower house of the German parliament] and said: “This is not the first time, something like this happened.”

Video: Premierentalk "Teeth"
Video: Teeth
(clip 1)
Video: Premiere Talk Célébration

In China it is like that: The closer a city is to the East-coast and the bigger the city is, the more diverse is the population and the more liberal are their views on homosexuality. The internet plays the same role for queer people in China as the West-German television did for people living in the former GDR. Of 18.3 million young internet-users over two million are considered to be addicted to it. And the TEDDY-website has user-statistics that totally ignore the trade-conflict between China and the USA. The most users are people with all different sexual orientations from China and the US, who peacefully surf the new articles as well as the archives. Lesbian, transgender and gay people from Hong Kong and Taiwan benefit from the western orientation of their countries. They also showed China how to produce internationally successful movies. And being lesbian or gay fits into movies that are categorized as exotic in Western countries. At the 57th Berlinale South Korea (in the country list under “R” for Republic of South Korea!) shows how it’s done and presents with “Like a virgin” and “No regret” two gay movies and with “Naughty Girls” a queer movie.


Under the heading TEDDY TAKES OFF the 21st TEDDY Awards take place in the impressive surroundings of Hangar2 at Tempelhof Airport on Friday Febr. 16th. Behind the restored original facade, Hangar2 provides a fully equipped 4,200 square metre events venue with a guest capacity of 2,500. In keeping with tradition, the TEDDY party starts after the ceremony where we will find TEDDY strutting its stuff on the dance floor.
T E D D Y 2 1 - DON'T DREAM IT ! - BE IT !

Asian movies are very welcome at the Berlin International Film Festival, especially in the Forum-section that always has a political affinity and the Panorama-section that has a cultural interest. I remember way back in the eighties I used to meet Alexander, a Sinologist, waiting in line at the Europa-Center for Berlinale tickets. He always and especially

Each day guest columnists from different regions tell their stories and explain the political situation for queer people in their native country.

was looking for Asian movies and most of the time got the tickets while all the other movies were sold-out already.

At the moment the University of California is planning the world’s most extensive film archive of lesbian, gay and transgender movies open to public. Andrew Grossman, author of “Queer Asian Cinema” argues that a lot of films from China will be found there, but most times homosexuality is not the main subject of those movies but used as a metaphor for political repression by the mostly straight filmmakers. Here’s an example to illustrate that: In early 2007 the chief of security ordered all courts to prosecute every “not cooperating element.” The External Relations Commissioner of the EU, Ferrero-Waldner, carefully called it a „more firm attitude“ and didn’t see the improvements of human-rights that would lead to the EU terminate its arms-embargo as well as sign a partnership-treaty in the near future. Up until now China is not even going to ratify the UN-conventions for civil and political rights of its citizens.

China is the EU’s second-largest trading partner. Due to the lack of social security however, the Chinese people are saving all their money, which adds up to half of the gross domestic product, and made the European Central Bank urge the Chinese people to spend more money. In addition to that there are about 100 million poor people mostly living in the rural areas of China and their situation seems hopeless. The millionaires are living in the cities in the more developed Eastern part of China such as Shanghai. Actually, there are over 50.000 Chinese that each own more than ten million Dollar. This unequal distribution of funds weighs upon the population of 1.3 billion Chinese citizens and it is these differentials that could cause social riots. Even a magazine like the “Mirror” was stunned by the mixture between Communism and market-economy and recently published a three-part series about “Chinas way to becoming a world-power.”

Article: China Opens Gay Clinic
The Chinese government has opened a health clinic for gays - the first of its kind in the Communist country - amid a growing HIV/AIDS crisis. The clinic will have a one year test period, after which its effectiveness will be judged. It will provide free HIV tests and treatment for the virus and for other sexually transmitted diseases the Xinhua news agency reports. The clinic will be run by the Disease Prevention and Control Center and an HIV/AIDS volunteer group in the Chaoyang District. The country has spent nearly $36 million on AIDS treatment in the last three years. but it has come under criticism from the West for lagging in HIV/AIDS education. The Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS, or UNAIDS, has warned that up to 10 million people in China could be infected by 2010 without more aggressive prevention measures.
Article: First lesbian helpline opens in China
China, where homosexuality is still considered taboo, has opened a hotline for lesbians offering them psychological help and support. The free hotline launched in Shanghai this week is staffed by trained counsellors who are also lesbians, Xinhua news agency reported.
Article: China: Gay man accuses Tsinghua of discrimination
Xiao Tian, a gay man, sparked an uproar in the gay community in the capital after he accused the prestigious Tsinghua University of discriminating against gays, xmnext.com reported on December 6. Xiao, in his 20s, wearing a signboard reading "I am gay and I hope to find my spouse on campus" was barred by security guards from entering the university. He was allowed to enter after he took off the signboard. According to the website, Xiao's motivations were to find a partner and at the same time campaign for gay rights. "When the security guards saw me with my board, they blocked me from entering the school," said Xiao.

That changes also multiply accidentally shows the birth politics. Since the one-child-family is being propagandized there are 100 girls being born, but 118 boys and according to the State Family Planning Commission they are later fighting for the marriageable women. But not all the men do: And homosexuality is also in China a way of life that is longing for a perspective. “You’ll have to learn to dance in chains” is the positive motto until there are orientation and role-models. Because in China homosexuality is not illegal but a taboo so strong that it affects every gay Chinese who wants to live an open live. Since homosexuality officially is not considered a mental disease anymore, queer Chinese are waiting for society to change as well.

Today's Column by Torsten Neuendorff


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