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East Palace, West Palace (15) + Introduction by writer Hayley Scanlon

Queer 90s

Still from East Palace, West Palace

A gay man is arrested while cruising in the Forbidden City in Beijing and begins an intense, erotically-infused power play with his arresting officer.

One of the first films from China to explore gay experience, East Palace, West Palace is named after the gay slang in Beijing for the two public toilets either side of the Forbidden City, a popular cruising ground. The drama crackles with tension from the moment young gay writer A-Lan (Si Han) is arrested for cruising and put under the guard of Xiao Shi (Hu Jun). As A-Lan begins to tell his life story, which reflects China’s repressive attitude towards homosexuality, a quasi-masochistic bond develops between the two men.

Controversial upon its release, East Palace, West Palace features excellent performances and evokes the spirit of Jean Genet in its complex, provocative expression of gay sexuality.

Hayley Scanlon is a freelance film writer and editor of East Asian cinema website Windows on Worlds.

Tagged with: Cinema Queer 90s PRIDE 2023

China 1996 dir Zhang Yuan 94 mins

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