The Best Asian LBGTQ Films to Watch this Pride Month

Jun 15, 2020 | AA, Cambodia, China, CULTURE, Philippines, POP, Taiwan, US, Vietnam

It looks like you have plenty of time to do a movie marathon this month. If you can’t attend Pride parties and events, one of the best ways to celebrate is to check out movies that show an honest narrative about the LBGTQ community. 

By now, you’ve probably seen Moonlight, Call Me by Your Name, or Carol ten times already; and chances are, you’re looking for your next favorite LGBTQ film. Good news awaits you because there is a wealth of Asian films that showcase this underrepresented community. We’ve compiled a list of the best movies we could find to make your Pride month celebration more colorful. 

Baka Bukas

Directed by Samantha Lee who hopes to advocate for better representation of the LGBTQ community, Baka Bukas tells the story of Alex, a lesbian based in Manila. While she is already out to most people, her best friend Jess who she is secretly in love with still doesn’t know. As they grapple with the truth, the two are forced to deal with the feelings they have for each other and question the dynamics of their friendship. This movie stars Jasmine Curtis-Smith as Alex and Louise Delos Reyes as Jess. If you love this film, you may also check out Billie and Emma, another film inspired by the experience of the director herself.  

Goodbye Mother

This 2019 film directed by Trinh Dinh Le Minh shows that despite the legalization of same-sex marriage in other countries, Vietnam’s conservative society still has a long way to go to accept homosexual couples. The movie centers on Van, the heir of a family clan who returns home from America for the move of his father’s tomb. As he returns home, the entire clan is surprised when he introduces another Vietnamese-American man named Ian. No one knows about their relationship and their struggle is intensified further by Van’s family’s expectations of him to have kids and fulfill his duties as the family’s heir. The lead’s grandmother who is suffering from senile dementia also mistakes Ian for her grandson which makes their situation even more complicated. 

The Half of It

Unfortunately, it’s not common to see LGBTQ films produced by mainstream platforms, but The Half of It is set to change that. This Netflix film directed by Alice Wu centers on a smart and studious high school student Ellie Chu who is looking for ways to earn money through lending her poem-writing services to boys. Ellie makes a deal with the high school jock to write love letters for another girl – her crush, and what comes next is an unexpected yet heartwarming tale of friendship. This fresh yet familiar tale of young love beautifully handles topics of language, race, sexual orientation, and even religion. 

Happy Together

There’s no way this list would be complete without including one of the best Asian films ever made, Happy Together. This film is directed by Wong Kar Wai won the best director at Cannes in 1997 for this movie. It’s an honest yet dreamy take on a turbulent and brutal gay love story as it perfectly shows how a couple can end up seeing themselves going in different directions. Even after two decades of its release, it remains a classic you should not miss. 

Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros

Although the Philippines has a vibrant LBGTQ community, there weren’t many movies made about it until the 2000s. One of the most beloved Filipino films to date, Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros or The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros is a moving tale about a gay Filipino kid in the poor slums of Manila. Its funny and quick-witted narrative brilliantly follows Maximo as he grows close with a police officer investigating his family’s crimes.

Celebrate Pride Month with These Films

There’s no denying that cinema is an amazing medium to showcase the complexities of the LBGTQ community. The films on this list do a great job of ensuring that the struggle to achieve equality and representation isn’t forgotten.

Other great films to watch

In Between Seasons – Korea

Call Her Ganda  – Philippines

Chinese Closet – China

Straight A – US (short)

Iron Legs – Cambodia (documentary)