It’s a triumph to live in an era when there are so many ethnically diverse LGBTQ representations in film. In recent years the film “Moonlight” beautifully delivered a depiction of Black Queer identity, which was both a critical and commercial success, even snagging the Oscar for Best Picture. This high achieving film, independent film proved that stories of LGBTQ diversity were not only of interest to audiences – but also bankable.
A new film, Twilight’s Kiss, is creating quite a buzz in Asian cinema with an LGBTQ subject matter that has mostly gone unexamined in that country. Directed by Ray Yeung, Twilight’s Kiss tells the untold stories of the elderly gay men of Hong Kong, who, as Yeung explains, “To survive, they’ve had to ignore who they are.”
Twilight’s Kiss first debuted in 2019 at the 24th Busan International Film Festival. Its original was Suk Suk – Cantonese for “uncle.” Though scripted, its narrative of elderly, closeted gay men in Hong Kong could be a docu-film on a whole generation of older men forced societally to live a “straight lie,” marry women, and denying their true sexual nature – except for when they are secretly cruising for sex. This dynamic exists globally, though, and is not exclusive to Hong Kong.
Ray Yeung’s vision for Twilight’s Kiss extends farther than just wanting to tell the story of these men. He also wanted to respectfully show them as vibrant sexual beings with the same attractions and desires as their young counterparts. Usually, in LGBTQ + films, the usual aesthetics of youth and ideological male beauty are typical. “Investors don’t see the marketability and commercial value of old bodies, especially in the context of gay films. It’s all about hot young men. There is a lot of ageism in the gay scene,” says Yeung.
Yeung’s simplified summary of Twilight’s Kiss is that it’s about “Two men, at peace with their age and bodies, hoping to find their soulmates.” After years of “sadness and shame,” these characters begin to evolve to self-acceptance, but their past and present parallels are notable. Today, young, gay Chinese citizens live openly without fear of living double lives. Yes, there are still a few societal hurdles but, remarkably, in recent years, China has even been moving closer (though slowly) to legalizing same-sex marriage.
Yeung is sympathetic with great reverence as he tells the story of these men and their peers, “We wouldn’t be where we are today without what these men have gone through. They need to be seen.”
Read more about Twilight’s Kiss and watch the trailer below / Released by Strand Distribution