TONGZHI IN LOVE
Produced by Thomas Lennon
2008, 30 minutes
Purchase: $310 | Classroom Rental: $125“Of the three filial offenses, failing to maintain the subsequent generation is the worst.” – Confucian TeachingDirected by Ruby Yang and produced by Thomas Lennon – the filmmakers behind the 2007 Academy Award-winning documentary The Blood of Yingzhou District – Tongzhi in Love explores what it’s like to be gay in modern China.
“Frog” Cui and his gay friends are torn between the lures of city life and the stern demands of Chinese tradition. They live in cosmopolitan Beijing, reveling in the freedom that it affords them.
But traditionally, a Chinese son’s solemn duty is to produce a child and carry forward the family line. That China’s laws limit most families to a single child only compounds the pressures on gay men. Many resort to sham marriages.
When his mother arrives to find him a girlfriend, Frog, 28 years old, understands that he cannot delay much longer. “Some of my gay friends have married lesbians,” he confides. “At the wedding, I saw how happy their parents were.”
Long Ze, even as he relishes his sexual life with men, lashes out against gays who refuse to marry. “That attitude is selfish, completely selfish. If you live your whole life for yourself, not for your parents,” he says, “how are you going to fulfill your responsibilities as Chinese man?”
Frog’s good friend, Xiang Feng, has asserted that he will come out to his parents on his next visit home. But when he and Frog travel the thousand miles into the Chinese countryside to the family village, events do not unfold as planned.
Tongzhi, pronounced “tung- jee” is a noun that means companion, friend, or comrade, as in fellow communist. It is also slang for a gay man.
* Winner, Best Documentary Short, San Francisco International Film Festival, 2009
* Official Selection, Silverdocs International Film Festival, 2008
* Official Selection, Frameline, San Francisco GLBT Film Festival, 2008
“ Highly recommended. Tongzhi in Love is a brief – but excellent – exploration of what it’s like to be a gay man in China. Reveals how Chinese society is still vastly different from America and Europe, despite the effects of globalization. The film raises critical questions about not only cultural differences, but also the burden placed on gays all around the world by the greater society that may force them to make personal decisions based on cultural traditions.” – Educational Media Reviews Online