Queer Life, Straight Spaces

The military and family loom large in this year’s Taiwan International Queer Film Festival (TIQFF) short film sections. By using these as windows into the sometimes-violent intersections of queer life and straight society, TIQFF leaves audiences with plenty to chew on.

This Is My Rifle, This Is My Gun (Taiwan, 2017)

This Is My Rifle, This Is My Gun tackles its serious subject matter with calm control. The temporally disjointed film tells the story of a cadet who takes his life as a result of homophobic bullying. As the film opens, a group of young Taiwanese military recruits driven by their platoon leader sings bawdy songs on the road. A radio broadcast quickly interrupts their revelry to reveal that the source of their derision, Hsiao-C, has committed suicide. Flashbacks ensue showing the young man bawling in the barrack showers before returning to the guilt-ridden survivors, who then wrestle — literally and metaphorically — with who should bear the blame for his death. While the final revelation leaves little doubt as to the immediate culprit, the short film poses big questions about the complicity of those who looked the other way, suggesting that Asia’s beacon of LGBTQ rights still has a long way to go when it comes to achieving true equality.

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