›› Sunken Plum - Chen Li ‹‹

a short film by Roberto F. Canuto and Xu Xiaoxi.

2017 | 20 mins | China.

finding the inner strength to be your true sexual self.

Dave says:

Jointly written and directed by Roberto F. Canuto and Xu Xiaoxi of Floating Melon fame, this delightful short film is dedicated to the trans community of China, who as the closing credits all too shockingly show are faced with the brutal reality of sexual prejudice, on a daily basis.

And no more so than in the life and times of Li Wanying (Gu Xiang) aka Little Youg; an aspiring transgender cabaret artist whose latest performance is greeted with derision by a crowd all too eager for the hunky go-go boys to return to the stage. Yet her night is set to go from bad to worse, when she spots her cousin Wang Dandan (Celia Yinmeng Yu) in the audience; namely the sole person who knows of Li Wanying's trans identity and who is here to inform her of the passing of her mother. Obliged as the only child, to return to her birthplace for her mother's funeral, in doing so she knows that she must hide her female form from friends and family and face the world as a son, in mourning. Only is this a performance beyond her?

Complete with a surreal sequence that in all of its sexual frankness kind of takes you by surprise, this is a work that you have to remind yourself is 'Made in China' thanks to the directors' film company; Almost Red Productions. Indeed and whilst China's appalling human rights record is well documented, often overlooked is the pressure on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communties to conform to social expectations. And here the narrative achingly reflects this, with Li Wanying's village seemingly united in their desire to find him a nice girl. Yet this is also a work that wonderfully captures Li Wanying finding the inner strength to be her true sexual self in the face of ridicule from those of transphobic minds.

Beautifully filmed throughout with a largely non-professional cast of players, here the Canuto / Xiaoxi pairing continue to deliver the goods, in a production that is proudly both gay and trans to the core. Yet this is also a short film that pays respect to the often superstitious traditions associated with Chinese burial rights and death, whilst equally going out of its way to showcase the language of Sichuanese, as spoken by more than 260 million of China's population and yet relegated to that of a mere dialect, by the powers that be. The result is not surprisingly - simply wondrous.

›› available as part of the NEW QUEER VISIONS: PARENTAL GUIDANCE shorts compilation.
›› posted: Wednesday, 20th October, 2021.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - the full monty. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 

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