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Thai Gay Film “Fathers” Makes China Debut

Thai gay-themed film ‘Fathers’ has made its debut in China. The movie tells the story of a same-sex couple who is struggling to build a family in spite of societal prejudice and legal difficulties.

Manya Koetse

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Thai gay-themed film Fathers has made its debut in China. The movie tells the story of a same-sex couple who is struggling to build a family in spite of societal prejudice and legal difficulties. Many netizens are happy to see the movie; especially since gay-themed films and dramas have been met with censorship in China over the past years.

Six months after the Thai gay-themed film Fathers premiered in Thailand, it has now made its debut in China on November 27 under the Chinese title Liǎng gè Bàba 两个爸爸 [Two Fathers].

The film, directed by Platphol Mingpornpichit, tells the story of gay couple Phoon and Yuke, who have adopted an orphan son named Butr and come to face multiple social and legal problems throughout their journey in building a family.

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Fathers realistically shows how Phoon and Yuke are confronted with their young son’s questions after he is teased in school for having “fag” fathers. In the 95-minute movie, the two fathers struggle to find their roles as fathers while staying true to themselves. “Love starts with two people, but family is more than just the two,” the movie’s tagline says.

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Fathers premiered in China through “Heavenly Thai Drama” (Tianfutaiju), a platform promoting Thai pop culture through Weibo and other Chinese social media sites. On Sina Weibo, Tianfutaiju has over 1.8 million followers (@天府泰剧).

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Tianfutaiju released the film, with Chinese and English subtitles, on its official channel on Chinese video platform Bilibili.com.

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The film’s release is especially noteworthy in light of several incidents over the past year that have shown the general discomfort of Chinese regulators with gay-themed dramas and films. Popular gay-themed web drama Heroin (上瘾) was pulled offline earlier this year.

In early 2016, Chinese State Administration released new regulations that forbid “homosexuality” in filmography, as it supposedly conveys “unnatural” values of love (Guangming Online). The State Administration was sued by Chinese film director and gay activist Fan Popo, as his 2012 documentary on homosexuality Mama Rainbow (彩虹伴我心) was removed from all online video platforms by December 2014.

China’s first gay movie Seeking McCarthney (寻找罗麦) by director Wang Chao was supposed to hit Chinese cinemas shortly after March 2016, but according to the film’s Weibo page it has still not been officially released.

On Weibo, many netizens appreciate the release of Fathers. “I like this film, it’s very realistic,” one person says. Within a few hours after the movie’s release was announced on the Tianfutaiju Weibo site, it was shared over 690 times.

“I am so thankful to Tianfutaiju [for posting], I am moved to tears,” one netizen commented. Other netizens also expressed their joy that the movie was released on the Bilibili platform with Chinese subtitles: “I have been waiting a long time to see this film. Thank you so much.”

The film can be viewed here. Comments in the screen can be turned off in settings. (Note: What’s on Weibo is in no way associated with Tianfutaiju, its channel or Bilibili).

– By Manya Koetse
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©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Arts & Entertainment

Guo Jingming’s ‘The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity’ Pulled from Theaters

Plagiarism does not seem to be a thing of the past for writer/director Guo Jingming.

Manya Koetse

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The sudden disappearance of the movie The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity (Qíng Yǎ Jí 晴雅集) from online ticketing platforms and nationwide cinemas is trending on Chinese social media today.

On the night of January 4th, netizens discovered that tickets for upcoming screenings of The Yin-Yang Master were pulled from various ticket platforms including Maoyan (猫眼) and Taopiaopiao (淘票票).

The hashtag “Qing Ya Ji Taken Offline” (#晴雅集被下线#), initiated by the Sina Movies account, then went trending on January 5, attracting over 800 million views by Tuesday afternoon Beijing time.

The Yin-Yang Master by writer-director Guo Jingming (郭敬明) is a movie adaption of the Japanese fantasy novel series Onmyōji by Baku Yumemakura. The movie was released in Chinese cinemas on December 25th. (Movie theaters in China reopened in summer of 2020 after a months-long COVID19 closure.)

Guo Jingming (1983), also known as Edward Guo, is a Chinese (screen)writer and celebrity. In 2004, Guo lost a plagiarism lawsuit filed against him and his publishing company in connection with his bestselling Never Flowers in Never Dreams (梦里花落知多少 2003), that contained many elements and characters of writer Zhuang Yu’s novel In and Out of the Circle (圈里圈外).

Although it has been years since that case, accusations of plagiarism continue to follow Guo and kept on drawing wide attention on social media. Recently, a group of professionals within the entertainment industry even signed a joint letter calling for a boycott of Guo and Yu Zheng (于正), another screenwriter caught up in multiple plagiarism scandals.

On December 31, Guo finally apologized for the plagiarism controversy. Fellow screenwriter Yu Zheng also apologized on the same day, leading to state media reports on turning December 31st in to “Anti-plagiarism Day.”

But plagiarism does not seem to be a thing of the past for Guo. In December 2020, Chinese media reported that his latest movie included scenes similar to Marvel’s Doctor Strange (2016). The similarities between Doctor Strange and Yin-Yang Master also became a much-discussed topic on social media, with netizens sharing images that show the similarities between the movies.

Although the removal of the movie from online ticketing offices and China’s cinemas comes as a surprise to many, Chinese news site Phoenix News already reported on Sunday that the movie would be removed on Monday, along with the movie Bath Buddy (沐浴之王) – which was also accused of plagiarism.

It is not clear at this point how the removal of the movie was communicated to online ticketing offices and cinemas.

On Weibo, the responses to the film’s removal are mixed. Some say this should serve as a warning to others that plagiarism is wrong, while others think its removal is unfair to all the actors and creatives who worked on this project.

Meanwhile, Netflix Asia has officially announced the The Yin Yang Master on its channels; the movie is supposed to come out on Netflix on February 5. It is unclear if the exclusive Netflix premiere is still on.

By Manya Koetse

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©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Arts & Entertainment

Chinese Anti-Bullying Movie “Better Days” Becomes Hit at Box Office and on Social Media

Chinese movie ‘Better Days’ is praised by online celebrities and experts for addressing the problem of campus bullying.

Chauncey Jung

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The Chinese movie Better Days (少年的你) is a hit; not just in Chinese cinemas, but also on social media, where campus bullying – one of the film’s main themes – is a recurring topic of debate.

Over the past week, Chinese movie Better Days (少年的你), by Hong Kong director Derek Kwok Cheung Tsang and produced by Jojo Hui, has continued its extraordinary performance in movie theaters across China.

The drama movie, starring two popular celebrities Jackson Yi (易烊千玺) and Zhou Dongyu (周冬雨), reached more than 1.4 billion CNY (almost 200 million US$) in box office revenue this week, already making it one of the most lucrative movies of this year.

Better Days is noteworthy for its narrative, which focuses on campus-bullying. In the film, high school student Chen Nian (Zhou Dongyu) is struggling with the stress of her gaokao exams when her best friend, who is bullied by a group of girls at school, commits suicide by jumping off a building.

While mourning over the loss of her friend and dealing with the aftermath of her suicide, Chen becomes a bullying target herself. The story takes a turn when she meets the small criminal Xiao Bei (Jackson Lee).

China’s bullying problem, central to this movie, has been an ongoing topic of discussion in online media over the past few years.

In 2016, a prominent elementary school in Beijing ended up at the center of controversy when various bullying incidents came to light. In that same year, a mother’s social media article on her son’s severe bullying at school went viral and triggered heated discussions.

In 2017, one bullying case became big news after a student from a Beijing-suburb area junior high school was reportedly forced to swallow feces from the restroom by his fellow classmates.

According to Chinese media outlet Caixin, China has yet to have specialized legislation against bullying. A 2016 study suggests that one-third of Chinese students experience school bullying on a frequent or occasional basis, and the bully problems are even more serious in rural areas, where more than 40% of the school-age children experienced some kind of bullying during their school life.

The heightened use of social media among China’s younger generations seems to have only aggravated the bullying problem, with campus violence and bullying being filmed and published online, making victims more vulnerable to further harassment. “Extreme bullying videos” even became a concerning online trend over the past years.

Some argue that China’s current legislation on protecting underage children is, in fact, protecting the bullies rather than those being bullied. A China News Service news report suggests that while most bullies are also individuals under 18 years old, penalties of bullying are also undermined because of the protective provisions in the current legal systems on minors.

In addition to calls to toughen related legislation, media commentaries are also calling for more resources to eradicate the bullying culture and toxic environment on campus. Chinese state media outlet Xinhua, for example, recently suggested the problem should be addressed through family education, counselling services, and more training for teachers and practitioners.

By addressing the issue of campus bullying in China, Better Days seems to have won the favor of moviegoing audiences in China. On the Chinese movie commentary site Douban, the film is receiving hundreds of positive comments and high ratings. The movie currently has a Douban score of 8.4 and a 98% “recommendation rate” on Weibo.

Better Days is also praised by online celebrities and experts. Renowned Chinese sociologist Li Yinhe (李银河), actress Ma Yili (马伊琍), and historian Yi Zhongtian (易中天) all complimented the great acting and the themes of the movie recently.

On Weibo, the movie has become tied to anti-bullying campaigns, with people sharing their own experiences and stories on school bullying and linking the film to hashtags such as “Unite in saying no to campus bullying” (#一起对校园欺凌说不#) or “How to combat campus violence” (#校园暴力到底该如何解决#).

By now, the movie’s hashtag (“Movie Better Days” #电影少年的你#) has seen over 540 million views on Weibo.

See the trailer of Better Days here (with English subtitles). Better Days is still airing in cinemas across China and is also played at various theaters in Europe, America, and Australia.

By Chauncey Jung

Edited by Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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