Lilting is UK-based director Hong Khaou’s debut feature, and has been getting a lot of attention recently. His debut was the product of the low-budget Film London Microwave project in association with BBC Films. It opened the 28th BFI London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival on 20 March and also the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. So, not bad for a debut. Now the film, which is a character study of a young man who meets his former lover's Chinese mother (who had no knowledge of their gay relationship), is out across the UK from 8 August, but the Ritzy Picturehouse 6.30pm screening on Wednesday 13 August will be followed by a Q&A with the director himself. Here is a review from my friend and film writing college Amber Wilkinson. My own review and a write up the Q&A will be forthcoming!
About the film from the BFI website:
Lilting dir. Hong Khaou, UK 2014, min
Staggering from loss after the recent death of his lover Kai, Richard (Ben Whishaw) reaches out to Kai’s mother Junn (Crouching Tiger’s Cheng Pei Pei), a Chinese-Cambodian woman who has never assimilated or learned English in her 20-something years in London. Kai was Junn’s lifeline to the world; she relied on him for everything, but despite this enforced intimacy, he never came out to her and Junn remains fiercely critical of Richard through a fugue of maternal jealousy and denial.
British director Hong Khaou’s film uses a cinematic idiom all of its own, weaving narrative strands from past and present, real and imagined, between mother and son and also between Richard and Kai (a boyishly beautiful Andrew Leung). Lingering, tender scenes of the lovers are dreamily captured by Weekend cinematographer Ula Pontikos (who deservedly nabbed a Sundance award). While serious and moving as a study of loss, Lilting also gracefully incorporates humour and warmth through a subplot in which Junn is wordlessly courted by an elderly Englishman (Peter Bowles), aided by a translator supplied by Richard.
A lyrical exploration of the pleasures and pains of communication, produced under the auspices of Film London’s hugely successful Microwave scheme, this is a precious British film to celebrate. It’s also a sophisticated portrait of a gay male relationship that goes beyond the first flushes of love to the heights and bittersweet depths of sharing a life, albeit briefly, with someone you love