At Home, Hes a Tourist

Hong Kongs Stanley Kwan steps out of the shadows and into Beijing

Ever since I started watching movies as a little kid, melodramas were what most appealed to me. They seemed to apply to my personal experiences. But when I started making films, I always felt this need to convey some kind of message or meaning beyond just a melodramatic story. Actually, I've now come to realize that I had just been making things overcomplicated, for myself and probably for the audience. I don't find it to be such a problem to deal directly with melodrama anymore. Simple and direct is good, too. When journalists ask me if there is any message that I'm trying to get across to audiences in Lan Yu, I tell them, no, it's just the basic story of a 10-year relationship, a love story about two men.

In 1996, you made the documentaryYang ± Yin: Gender in Chinese Cinema, where you not only explored the history of homoerotic imagery in Hong Kong films, but used the occasion to make a public statement about your own sexuality as well. How did coming out affect your career?

I'm sorry to say that, compared to Taiwan and even mainland China, Hong Kong—which is supposed to be this very sophisticated and civilized place—is the most conservative of the three Chinese territories. Hong Kong people behave like they're very welcoming of new ideas—multiculturalism, and so on—but they accept these things with their mouths only, not their hearts. After the Hong Kong Movie Awards this year [where Lan Yu, with 11 nominations, was completely shut out of the winner's circle], one prominent local film critic, commenting on the conservative trend in our industry over the past few years, wondered aloud in his column why it was that, since Stanley Kwan made his sexuality public, he hasn't won a single award. It was nice of him to ask.

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