August 14, 2019

A Hong Kong with freedom and marriage equality? "Forever 17" imagines a brighter future

Forever 17 crowdfunding page

In recent weeks, the Anti-Extradition Bill Movement has been ferocious. At a time when the antagonism between the people and the government has gone viral, can we imagine a Hong Kong with freedom and marriage equality? The recently completed film Forever 17 depicts a gay couple getting married, growing old and staying together in love for more than 40 years, all in a future where marriage equality has been legalized in Hong Kong. The beautiful image is quite ironic given what Hong Kong is currently undergoing.

Directed by Teddy Award-nominated Hong Kong director Kit Hung, Forever 17 is one of the originals projects launched by GOL STUDIOS and GagaOOLala. The film has just finished production, and it is currently searching for post-production budget and staff through a crowdfunding campaign. The film is expected to premiere at this year's Berlin International Film Festival. According to Kit Hung, the story is dedicated to two honorable HK queer icons, actor Leslie Cheung (張國榮), and singer and friend Ellen Loo (盧凱彤), who committed suicide last year: "We must free ourselves from the sorrow of their death, and build a brighter future together."

Starring Jung Leung and Sam Ho, actors from The Way We Are (2008) and To Live and Die in Mongkok (2009), Forever 17 depicts the love between gay couple Ricky and Roger, through love and care, betrayal and forgiveness, pain and recovery, death and survival, showcasing that a gay couple is just like any one straight couple. The story re-imagines a future for us: in 2029, Hong Kong has passed same-sex marriage legislation, Ricky and Roger and two other lesbian couples become the first registered same-sex couples in Hong Kong. Ricky's parents gave them their own wedding rings as a blessing, the best proof of acceptance from the heterosexual parents to his queer son and his partner.

Kit Hung explained that "the film looks like an ordinary yet dream-like story. And it is the future many gay people dream of." “A simple, ordinary life” seems to be easy to achieve but, unfortunately, that is only true for the ordinary, heterosexual people. It is difficult for gay people who have been labeled as others. Kit added that "in Hong Kong, seldom do we see queer couples on the street or media, let along those, together, growing old and facing the challenges of maintaining a long term relationship."

Kit Hung's short films Invisible People (有人) and I Am Not What You Want (天使) premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, and his first feature film, Soundless Wind Chime, was nominated by The Teddy Award presented by Berlin International Film Festival. Forever 17 is his latest short film, and the first part of his "Queer Hong Kong" trilogy.

Forever 17 project page on GOL STUDIOS