After the success of 2019’s “Suk Suk,” in which he examined the late blooming love of two elderly men, Hong Kong based filmmaker Ray Yeung is proposing to take an adjacent track in his upcoming film “Today… Tomorrow…”
After the death of her partner, a 60-something lesbian finds herself at the mercy of the partner’s family as she struggles to fight for the home that the two women had shared for over thirty years.
Yeung aims to shoot the $600,000 project early next year. And having assembled 40% of that total, he is now seeking to complete the budget by pitching it at the Busan International Film Festival’s Asian Project Market. Remarkably, it has also been selected for three other project events – Rome’s MIA, the Tokyo Gap-Financing Market, and the Golden Horse Film Project Promotion market – in quick succession.
Production is by Michael J. Werner and Teresa Kwong through New Voice Film Productions.
Yeung says that “Today… Tomorrow…” is neither a mirror image of the “Suk Suk” male-focused story, nor a retelling of a recent legal case in Hong Kong, in which the surviving partner in a married gay couple won a legal battle to handle the dead partner’s funeral arrangements. Rather, it is an examination of how society fails to acknowledge lesbian women’s relationships as real.
“Lesbian couples are almost neglected in Asia. They are accepted in an unspoken way, treated like sisters or best friends. The couples keep it quiet, and people are ambiguous towards them. They can be accepted as part of the family, but are not actually acknowledged,” says Yeung. But turning a blind eye when they are together means that troubles are simply stored up for later. “When there is a change, everything emerges. All the prejudices come out, and almost overnight that person is no longer a family member,” he says.
Yeung says that he started writing the project some 18 months ago after attending a talk about inheritance rights in the LGBT community and before the real-life Henry and Edgar case went to court. (The case was settled in recent weeks when the Hong Kong government said it would not discriminate between heterosexual and same sex spouses in the area of funeral services.) After the talk, Yeung was introduced to a woman in her sixties who had lost everything when her unmarried partner died.
“My film is a family drama about a lesbian couple. But hetero couples who are not married could face similar problems,” says Yeung. “It is also about exploring the older generation in Hong Kong. Had she been twenty years younger, would [the protagonist] have fought differently?”
Yeung has no expectation that the completed film will be allowed to screen in mainland China, which is undergoing a conservative crackdown that is worrying for LGBT rights. But, for now, Hong Kong’s political and film industry turmoil does not seem to have completely eroded the territory’s more liberal approach to LGBT society and gay filmmaking.
Yeung says that the project’s application for government funding has been in limbo for eight months since February. But, on the other hand, all 32 titles submitted to censorship by the Hong Kong Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, of which Yeung is an organizer, have been approved.