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College students' film reveals inner life of 'homowives'

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China.org.cn, November 16, 2015

A 60-minute film – "To Be With You" – directed by and starring college students from southern China for the first time looks at the wives of gay men, known as "Tongqi" in Chinese, whom society regards as a private and disadvantaged group, the Southern Metropolis Daily has reported.

This is the fifth exclusive film produced by the students of the Beijing Institute of Technology, Zhuhai (BITZH) in Guangdong Province. The theme of the film has been described as "sharp" and "innovative" and has drawn expectedly wide attention from both students and teachers since the film trailer was screened.

A poster of the film "To Be With You" directed by Du Yuelian, a graduate of 2015 from Beijing Institute of Technology, Zhuhai. [Photo/www.zhbit.com]

The premiere of the film is scheduled to be held on various campuses on Friday, said Du Yuelian, its director.

A film destined to be an instant hit on campuses

The production team comprised more than 100 students of BITZH, including the playwright, director, actors and other workers. The preparatory work started in early March this year, according to the newspaper and the official website of BITZH.

"To Be With You To" tells the story of a young couple. The husband's indifferent attitude towards his new wife triggers a crisis of affection and trust. While the relationship between the two seems to be taking a turn for the better, the wife finds that her husband is gay.

With the heroine Qiaoyi as the main focus, the film tells a love story involving intricate plots. The producers hope the strong conflict of affections and ideas between all the characters will appeal to audiences through a series of meticulous and deep-going details.

Du Yuelian, a 2015 graduate, explained that previous films shot by the BITZH students mainly focused on campus life, while this film is a "self-breakthrough" – a thorough examination of today's social issues. "Our actors, director and playwright have no rich social experience, so it is a completely new attempt for us in all senses," he said.

Du said that the overall keynote of homosexuality, a somewhat taboo topic, was most challenging. "I am willing to accept the challenge. I did a lot of research on the characters in the play and the method of shooting."

Huang Shuyi, the leading actress and a graduate of 2013, said she had always had a great interest in the performing arts such as drama since her childhood, and the heroine in "To Be With You" left a deep impression on her. "I tried my best to study the developing plot and devote myself to the role. Learning from experiences of the characters in the play makes me feel wonderful and the whole process was full of fun," she said.

Li Xiaolin, the playwright, said she had read the reports about "homowives" as early as her high school days and was deeply shocked by the social phenomenon. "I have kept on thinking about how these women should deal with this difficult problem in their lives. Many of them have no choice but to keep silent under tremendous pressures from both the family and society."

Zhang Long, a teacher of BITZH, said that the theme of the film itself was the biggest breakthrough, reflecting a profound social problem, rather than a topic of sex superficially. "The students have made a laudable effort to shoot a film with such an influential theme. It just reflects the open mind of today's Chinese campus."

Statistics about "Tongqi"

"Tongqi" is a Chinese language neologism for women who have married gay men. In real life, very few of the women locked into these marriages were aware their spouses were gay until later. According to a research report by China Women's News last May, there are roughly 16 million "Tongqi" in the country. Among these women, 90 percent have suffered from domestic violence, 30 percent have no sex in their married lives, but only 30 percent choose divorce.

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