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East Palace, West Palace
(DVD)

DIRECTED BY - Yuan Zhang


China's rebellious and incessantly audacious Yuan Zhang delves into the secret world of illicit homosexuality in his devastatingly erotic and politically astute film, EAST PALACE, WEST PALACE. Immediately banned by the Chinese government, the film follows the young gay writer, A-Lan, as he drifts in and out of China's hidden homosexual haunts, where he is beaten, humiliated and harassed along with other gays. When a handsome policeman busts him for "cruising" the grounds of the Forbidden Palace, A-lan starts to see his behavior as a dangerous obsession. When he is caught by the officer a second time, A-lan undergoes a loaded overnight interrogation laced with barely sublimated erotic tension in which he talks about his life as a homosexual to the enraptured officer. As A-lan describes the sometimes tortuous conditions of being gay in China, which he proudly proclaims "make life worth living," the master and servant relationship slowly evolves into one of curious attraction and fear. Zhang slyly uses the chamber drama taking place between A-lan and the officer to create a stunning metaphor for the sado-masochistic relation that Chinese people have with their own authority figures. As the drama is played out, Alan's dreamlike, tragedy-laced past mingles with symbolic images from Chinese opera. Each of A-lan's stories deftly seduces the officer and further illuminates A-lan's complex hidden courage.

GENRES - drama, glbt