‘Seek McCartney’ will be hitting the theatres in China soon, becoming the country’s first commercial movie portraying gay romance.
The movie, starring French actor Jeremie Elkaim and Chinese pop singer and actor Han Geng, follows two gay men in their struggle to keep their secret relationship.
Directed by Wang Chao, this China-France co-production was first screened at the 67th Cannes Festival back in 2014.
In 2015, Wang Chao shared on Weibo (Chinese version of Twitter) that the movie was approved by China’s top media watchdog, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT).
Wang Chao described the move as a small step for the censorship department but a big one for all filmmakers in the country.
Speaking with BuzzFeed last year after the announcement, the director said he thought the turning point was when the U.S. Supreme Court approved same-sex marriage in June:
‘It has been having a tremendous impact on China.’
Wang Chao also shared he gained confidence that his film would be able to make it pass the country’s censors after he went to watch The Imitation Game in the cinema and was ecstatic to see that the gay plot was not cut out.
From the newly released trailer which features not one bit of man-on-man action, but instead, a monologue and one of the characters travelling around the world, it is hard to guess what to expect from the film.
However, this might be the best bet for the producers ahead of the actual screening, since China has been clamping down hard on gay content in mass media following its recent ban of viral drama series, Addicted, which depicts a romantic relationship between two Chinese high-schoolers.
‘China’s system for evaluating films is still very unstable, because the rules are very unclear,’ commented Fan Popo, an LGBT filmmaker and rights activist. ‘It depends heavily on the individual censor’s whims.’
Fan himself was a victim of China’s censorship policies. In 2014, his documentary, ‘Mama Rainbow,’ which portrays young gay Chinese and their parents, was suddenly taken down from various popular video streaming sites in China after it had clocked about a million views in total.
‘The fact that this film can be released in theatres doesn’t mean gay films in the future will be able to released in China,’ Fan added.
In the past, ‘The King And the Clown,’ one of the highest grossing films in South Korea, as well as the award-winning Hollywood film, ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ were banned from showing in public theatres.
Gay community leader, Qiang, who runs a pro-LGBT rights organization called PFLAG China, believes that ‘Seek McCartney’ would be able to give hope to gay communities in China.
‘I think that the approval serves an extremely positive role for the public to understand gay communities,’ he told BuzzFeed News.
Though on Weibo, one user noted: ‘Hope it hasn’t been turned into a story about brotherhood by the SARFT.’