Running Time: 110 mins / Production Year: 2011~2012 / Theatrical Release: Taiwan, 3 August 2012 / Screens: 50
“Let’s make a pact: when we’re 30, if we’re still single, then we’ll get married!”
Mabel, Liam and Aaron were born in the same small town, deep in the far south of Taiwan. They were children together in a kind of rural paradise, surrounded by jasmine and camphor trees. Even down in this tropical idyll, however, where it feels like nothing has changed for centuries, time marches on.
In this final, hotbed year, new feelings arise, which will alter the childhood bonds between them forever: Aaron loves Mabel, but Mabel only has eyes for Liam; who likes her, but not in the way as she expects; Liam has never admitted it to anyone, but who he’s really in love with, is Aaron. While Liam remains impervious to all Mabel’s displays of affection, Aaron steps up his pursuit until, eventually, Mabel gives in to his attentions.
It’s the 1980s. Taiwan is still under Martial Law, and the Taiwanese people are still locked into the battle to have it lifted; a social revolution is set to take off. Mabel, Liam, and Aaron throw themselves into taking part: they graffiti slogans in the corners of their school, publish incendiary poems in the school paper, and plot protest movements during morning assembly time.
Finally, the time comes to leave behind the relative calm of the countryside for the bright lights of the big city. As students in Taipei, they fight even harder for their ideals: they join the Wild Lily Movement, taking part in a sit-in to advocate for freedom and democracy. In the course of this, longheld secrets are revealed. The truth comes out about Liam’s feelings for Aaron. The revelation strikes a chord of betrayal and deception into the heart of the friendship, and the friends drift further and further apart.
More time passes. Society opens up, the economy develops. The three are no longer students. Life is fast-paced and it takes over; they lose touch with their youthful ideals. Having experienced hope, disillusionment, confusion and renewal in the last two decades, Mabel and Liam finally put aside their differences, and are reconciled. Mabel finds herself becoming the Other Woman in Aaron’s marriage; Liam, also, finds himself caught up in an affair with a married man.
Coming almost full-circle, the old friends are there for one another through times of emotional hardship and extreme tragedy. With this, they come to realize once again the true value of their lifelong friendship: little by little, they turn that pact they made all those years ago into a whole new kind of present…
Producers: YEH JUFENG, LIU WEIJIAN
Scriptwriter: YANG YA-CHE
Director of Photography: JAKE POLLOCK
Gaffer: CHEN KUAN-TING
Production Designer: LEE TUNG-KANG
Costume Designer: WEI HSIANG-RONG
Editor: CHEN JUNG-HUNG
Sound: KUO LI-CHI, TU DUU-CHIH
Music: CHUNG HSING-MIN
GWEI LUN-MEI as Mabel
JOSEPH CHANG HSIAO-CHUAN as Liam
RHYDIAN VAUGHAN as Aaron
BRYAN CHANG SHU-HAO as Sean
Writer-director, YANG Ya-che is a newly acclaimed filmmaker with a background in the TV industry. Born in 1971, Yang graduated from the department of Mass Communication, Tamkang University. He has worked in different profession fields during college in which the experiences have later become his inspiration of writing for materials. He was employed as the copywriter for the advertisement agency and writer for animation company.
Yang works in various mediums, including several documentary series, stage plays, short films, TV drama and motion picture. As a celebrated writer-director for the Taiwan Public Television, some of his popular works include, “SQUATTER’S HEAVEN” (2002), “THE STORY OF A DETECTIVE” (2005), “LONELY GAME” (2007) and “A LULLABY AGAINST LOVE” (2008), etc.
His first feature drama, “ORZ BOYS” (2008), interspersed with sequential animated images, tells the magical story if two little boys’ friendship from children’s perspective that’s rarely seen in Taiwanese cinema, which successfully connected to audiences across extensive ages, which made a local box office record of NTD$36 million dollars. It won the Best Director in the Taipei Film Festival in 2008 and was the only Taiwanese film purchased by NHK in over ten years.
This is a film about “family”.Today, Taiwan stands proudly as one of the freest of the Chinese-speaking countries. This, however, has only been able to come about as the result of a long and bitter struggle.
After the lifting of the longest period of Martial Law the world has ever seen (37 years), Taiwanese society was in uproar, fumbling around in pursuit of the much-longed for freedom. The Taiwanese people had been forcibly segregated by the government, separated out into groups of so-called “indigenous” (for the native-born Taiwanese) and “mainlander” (for those coming from mainland China); neither side could identify with the other.
Now, a similar situation can be observed between the straight and gay communities. In Taiwan, homosexuality is all too often viewed as a kind of subculture, or as some sort of media curiosity story – and the same is true of its representation in film. In the past, on the rare occasion a homosexual character was awarded anything other than a supporting role, the portrayal of their sexuality has remained extremely limited; there has been very little opportunity for opening any real dialogue with the straight world.
The “GF*BF” story spans the enormous social changes that have taken place over the last three decades of Taiwanese history. At the heart of the film is the evolving relationship between three friends, gay and straight. The aim is to convey the idea that no one is more or less deserving of love than anyone else: in a free country, no one should have to resign themselves to a life without family.
When the three main characters – a girl and two boys – come into their final year of high school, their childhood friendship begins to unravel. The story follows them as they fall apart and then, much later, are reconciled. As they move into middle age, they come recognize the true value of their shared roots – and their lifelong friendship. They are reunited to become an unconventional kind of family, much like the one in Michael Cunningham’s much-loved novel, “A Home at the End of the World”.
The reality, however, is that outside of the realm of fiction, homosexuals in Taiwan are still denied the right to marry, and they are still denied the right to adopt children.
Over the course of the last ten years, Taiwanese society has been gradually evolving. The old political wounds have begun to heal, and Taiwanese people have started to look inwards; the “indigenous” and the “mainlander” groups are able to engage with one another, and find ways to relate to one another.
Although prejudice remains, therefore, we are slowly – a step at a time – moving closer towards a place of understanding. With this film, I hope to open up a similar dialogue about the gay community. Because gay people – those people you don’t understand, those people still denied the right to a family – they are your friends, and they are also your family.
In Taiwan, after centuries of conflict over birthrights and culture, the different communities calling this island their home have been able to come to a place where they can be united, and look upon each others as countrymen. In the same way, the Taiwanese people are beginning to open their minds to new notions of “family”. No matter what shape it takes on, no matter whether gay or straight, the main thing to understand is that where there is love, there is family.
*Best Actor & Best Supporting Actor & Press Award at the Taipei Film Festival, 2012.
*Selected for the A WINDOW ON ASIAN CINEMA section at the Busan Int’l Film Festival, 2012.
*Audience Choice Award & Best Leading Actress Award at the Golden Horse Award, 2012.
*Best Actress Award at the Asia Pacific Film Festival, 2012.