Taiwan’s legalization of gay marriage last year helpfully came in time for the real-world launch of the GOL Summit, Asia’s largest LGBTQ+ filmmaking conference. That in turn helped maintain the momentum for a second edition that, due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be a fully virtual affair.
The event, which runs Monday and Tuesday (Nov. 16-17, 2020) is backed by the GagaOOLala streaming platform, launched by Taiwan studio Portico Media, in collaboration with the Taiwan Content Creative Agency (TAICCA). The GOL Summit is also one of the first events this year in a series that makes up the 2020 Taiwan Creative Content Fest International Market (TCCF).
The focus of the first day is the GagaOOLala Pitching Sessions, aimed at bringing together financiers, distributors and sales agents around some 15 new pieces of LGBTQ content – features, series and shorts.
While pitching videos are to be made available on the event’s website, an advisory team will also be holding private meetings with the pitching teams in order to discern a top prize that brings investment worth up to $100,000. Two silver awards are worth $50,000 each for film or series projects, and there is a further $10,000 available for the best short film pitch.
The jury includes Pierre Cheung (SVP & GM Asia at ViacomCBS Networks International), Quark Henares (head of Globe Studios), Jennifer Jao (director of the Taipei Film Commission), Michael Leow (entertainment lawyer and partner at Haldanes Solicitors & Notaries), Jay Lin (CEO of GagaOOLala), Janine Stein (editorial director at ContentAsia), Indra Suharjono (senior media advisor at JKN Global Media) and film producer Lorna Tee.
There are additional grants available from TAICCA for international co-productions between Taiwan and overseas countries.
The GPS received more than 150 submissions from 25 different countries. Those that made the shortlist include projects from directors Flavio Florencio (“Made in Bangkok”), Sein Lyan Tun (“Unsilent Potato”), The Philippines’ Adolfo Alix Jr. (“Adela,” “Death March”), Alex Chu (“For Izzy”) and Doris Yeung (“Taxi Stories”).
The second day is turned over to conference format and five online seminars with speakers including iconic U.S.-based distributor and producer Christine Vachon (“Carol,” “Savage Grace,” “The Notorious Betty Page”), Frameline executive director James Woolley, Berlinale Panorama program manager Bartholomew Samut, ViacomCBS’s Cheung, and Lisa Dino, chairperson of the Film Development Council of the Philippines.
The conference spans topics including: East meets West, the emerging trends of queer cinema around the world; marketing and distribution of Asian LGBTQ content; what types of queer content Asian platforms are looking for; how to adapt popular LGBTQ IP for the screen; and financing and co-production issues.
While some opportunities for gay content have narrowed over recent years, notably as the video markets have shrunk, and independent cinemas have struggled, other avenues are being opened up. And coronavirus has shaken many assumptions.
Taiwan, where cinemas have remained open throughout, has seen the release of five queer-themed feature films in theatres in the second half of the year. These include “Your Name Engraved Herein” (aka “The Name Engraved in Your Heart”) directed by Liu Kuang-Hui, which has become the highest grossing film of the year on the island. And in the Philippines, Lisa Dino says: “LGBT films are mainstream now.”