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Gay coal miners and female-to-male transgenders win film funding in China

LGBT film training in Beijing awards two fledgling filmmakers the chance to make documentaries
LGBT film students with director Fan Popo in Beijing

Gay coal miners and female-to-male transgenders won the chance to be the subjects of documentaries at a LGBT film training course in Beijing this month. Eight participants, chosen from 29 applicants from all over China, took part in the week’s training.

‘The students were very enthusiastic,’ Stijn Deklerck told Gay Star News. ‘We've been doing it [making LGBT films] for five years so it was nice to have this fresh input.’ Deklerck is from Queer Comrades, an organisation who have been making webcasts about LGBT issues in China since 2007.

From the eight participants, two students’ ideas for documentaries were chosen to be supported by direction and funding from Queer Comrades and director Fan Popo, who runs China Queer Independent Films.

‘We chose them mainly for their topics,’ said Deklerck. ‘They were very good students and you could see they were very creative in their thinking, but the deciding factor was that they both had willing subjects at hand, who hadn't been filmed yet.’

The coal miner, Yue Jianbo, told China Daily: 'There are documentaries about gay people and there are documentaries about coal miners, so why not make one about gay coal miners?'

The other winner was Yao Yao, who runs a photo studio for lesbians in Shandong province. ‘She works in an organisation with quite a few transgender people and she already has the permission of one of them to film the whole process [from female to male],’ said Deklerck. ‘And that's a story that hasn't really been covered in China. There have been quite a few documentaries and films about male-to-female transgenders, but there's not been very much on female-to-male.’

Yue and Yao have returned home with high-definition video cameras to film their stories. When completed, they will be screened on Queer Comrades' website and hopefully at film festivals.

‘We hope that they will be ready by September/October but I guess we'll kind of have to see,’ said Deklerck. ‘Especially with documentary making you never really know what's going to happen.’

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