First Gay-ish Film Widely Released in China

Despite suspected cuts from media regulators, advocates see ‘Looking for Rohmer’ as an important step toward LGBT acceptance.

a still from “Looking for Rohmer”

Gay cinemagoers in China are finding “Looking for Rohmer” a bit of a letdown. Long heralded on Chinese social media as the first gay-themed film to be approved for nationwide release, “Looking for Rohmer” — also known by its prerelease title, “Seek McCartney” — premiered on Friday to mixed reviews. When Sixth Tone’s reporter attended a Shanghai screening on Friday evening, the only three other viewers in the theater were all gay men.

After the final credits, a 35-year-old consultant told Sixth Tone that “Looking for Rohmer” was more arthouse film than “gay film.” He declined to give his name for fear of publicly revealing his sexuality.

A French-Chinese coproduction, the film tells the story of Zhao Jie, a Chinese dancer, coming to terms with his French friend Rohmer having died in an avalanche in Tibet. Han Geng, an actor known for his boyish good looks, plays the lead role of Zhao, while Rohmer is played by French actor Jérémie Elkaim. The movie’s trailer — released over two years ago, in March 2016 — paints a picture of an ambiguous, complex bromance between the two men. Notably, little if any compelling evidence of a sexual relationship can be found in the Chinese novella upon which the film is based.

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While the film is not devoid of gay themes, many are subtly incorporated. After witnessing a fatal car accident, for example, Rohmer numbs the pain at a bar populated by men in pairs that viewers identified as “Destination,” a popular LGBT bar in Beijing. The film’s ending, meanwhile, is a flashback to Zhao and Rohmer performing a traditional Tibetan dance that tells the story of a royal couple parted in death. Continue to read the full article here.


This is original content by Sixth Tone and has been republished with permission.