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Saving Face, 2004(Film still) © 2005 Screen Gems, Inc

7 queer east Asian movies you need to watch now

As the Queer East film festival hits London this week, we pick out our highlights from the programme – from 90s Japanese cult classic Summer Vacation 1999, to ethereal Sichuan doc The Last Year of Darkness

The UK’s gayest celebration of East Asian cinema is back for a bumper fifth-year edition in 2024, and it’s never been more vibrant. Running from April 17 to 28, Queer East will take over iconic London venues like the BFI Southbank, the Barbican, and the Garden Cinema in Covent Garden with an XL roster of queer-coded works from Japan, China, Taiwan and more. The line-up, which will tour the UK later this year, includes contemporary dramas, TV shows, classic arthouse features, and groundbreaking documentaries, while innovative shorts series with titles like I Will Haunt You Forever: Queer Ghosts Across Time and Harvesting the Fruits of Monstrosity offer a creative edge elsewhere.

But wait, there’s more! Further afield, there’s an immersive bondage” event involving rope restraints at Ugly Duck arts space, and a queer ecological walk-and-talk in the garden of the Museum of the Home. And if you fancy getting wet, there’s a double bill sauna screening at Hackney Wick Community Sauna Baths that promises to showcase queer intimacy and sexuality through “water, fluids, and gloopiness” – it also includes free congee, sweet soup, and fried dough sticks in case you get peckish.

Before you rush to grab your towel, check out our film highlights from elsewhere on the programme below, including a 2024 Academy Award submission, a 1997 Berlin Silver Bear winner, and a poignant documentary on a queer-friendly techno club in the heart of China. For everything else, hit the Queer East website now.