Hong Kong Lesbian& Gay Film Festival( HKLGFF) is an annual LGBT film festival held in Hong Kong. It is the oldest LGBT film festival in Asia( founded in 1989 by Edward Lam). From 1989 to 2001, HKLGFF was hosted and sponsored by Hong Kong Arts Centre. At that time, most of the films were screened in small theaters. The amount of audience was also limited. Since 2001, it is hosted by HKLGFF society, it gradually grows into formal and more influential LGBT film festival. According to the information from HKLGFF website, the venues of the screening are mostly mainstream theaters, furthermore, The University of Hong Kong is one of the main venues of it. Some tickets even sold out in quite a short time.
The prestigious international film festivals are supported by various stakeholders who want to get their economic profit. In this respect, social value of those film festivals could be neglected. The community-based film festivals own further social motivations. Accordingly, as it is reported by Peranson in 2008, the community-based film festivals should balance the financially risky films with commercial fare. It is an issue the major film festivals do not need to concern about. Return to the discussion about HKLGFF, to some degree, it makes achievement in balancing the financial value and its social objective. On one hand, as it is mentioned above, HKLGFF could able to gain relatively steady income from ticket sale. On the other hand, as a community-based film festival, HKLGFF could be seen as a counter public spheres which shows stories about gender diverse people and creates discourses excluded from the public. In addition, “ The value of the arts industry is not purely cultural and social; it has the potential to contribute to the achievement of other outcomes, such as ‘health, education and community development’”( Hutchinson cited in Richards, 2016, pp. 136).According to HKLGFF website, HKLGFF has a long-term cooperation with Hong Kong Red Ribbon Centre( official organization for HIV prevention and treatment). In this respect, HKLGFF offers a unique opportunity to create a connection between screening LGBT films and aiding the health.
However, as a community-based film festival, the problem of HKLGFF is also noticeable. According to HKLGFF website, although the venues of the screening are mainly mainstream theaters, the main target audiences are gender diverse people. The long term partners of HKLGFF are almost queer communities and organizations all over the world. There is no doubt that every film festival has its core audiences. But film festival will gradually lose some of its meaning if its audiences are limited in particular community. In this case, if the audiences of HKLGFF are limited in Hong Kong LGBT community, it can hardly promote equal opportunities and eliminate discrimination against sexual minority groups in Hong Kong( the mission of HKLGFF). Wong( 2016) argues the festival organizers see the festival as interlocutor on the gender, racial, social and censorship issues and provide spaces for the articulation of these struggles. However, could the community-based film festivals work as the interlocutor? Or they just act as platforms for the circulation of agitational inter-public oppositional discourse? These questions need further discussion.
Peranson, M( 2008). First you get the power, then you get the money: two models of film festivals. Cinéaste, Vol. 33, No. 3, Summer 2008, 37-43.
Richard, S( 2016). Proud in the middleground: how the creative industries allow the Melbourne queer film festival to bring queer content to audiences. Studies in Australasian Cinema, Vol. 10, No. 1, 129-142.
Wong, C( 2016). Publics and counterpublics Rethinking film festivals as public spheres. Film Festivals: History, Theory, Method, Practice, edited by Valck, Marijke de, et al., NY: Routledge.
Official website of HKLGFF http://www.hklgff.hk/zh-hant/guan-yu-wo-men