|The Unbidden is a psychological thriller film which will have its NZ premiere at the AROHA 17 Film Festival – part of the Auckland Pride Festival which kicks off on Friday 10th.
The screening is the highlight of a two-cinema, two-part, one-night line-up of films complemented by fashion installations, music and dance performances. Justine Sachs fired off some questions to the film's creator...
Like The Unbidden, which centres on four women confronted by a mysterious young man who knows a dark secret from their past, most of writer/director Quentin Lee’s work features LGBTI themes and characters.
Los Angeles-based Lee is probably best known for his 2004 drama/thriller Ethan Ma, noted for its gay male Asian lead characters. He was born in Hong Kong and emigrated to Montreal when he was sixteen. He attended UC Berkeley, Yale and UCLA gaining a M.A (Master of Arts) in English and a M.F.A (Master of Fine Arts) and has worked with the likes of Fast and Furious director Justin Lin, with the two collaborating on the now cult classic Shopping for Fangs, featuring John Cho.
JS: How did you hear about/get involved with the AROHA’17 Festival?
QL: Mika Haka invited me, and I said 'Yes.'
JS: Who are your biggest LGBTI inspirations and heroes?QL: I have to say Quentin Crisp, as I might have been named after him by my aunt. Of course my parents didn’t have any idea… I don’t mind if I had been indeed named after this gay pioneer.
JS: How does your sexuality inform your art?
QL: My sexuality, like all my cultural identities, gives me a unique perspective of looking at things and creating things different from anyone else.
JS: AROHA’17 showcases young LGBTI artists of colour, with a focus in Aotearoa on lgbti Māori/Pasifika artists. Can you speak briefly on why, for you, diversity and representation is important in art?
QL: Again, diversity is part of me and obviously will show up in my art one way or another… and art celebrates uniqueness which diversity is part of.
JS: Do you think filmmakers have an obligation to represent a diverse range of sexualities, ethnicities, races and genders in their work?
QL: No, filmmakers are artists. They should represent what they feel artistically inclined. As an artist of color, you’re of course artistically inclined toward representing your point-of-view and sensibility.
JS: Your films are renowned for featuring lgbti characters and themes, how has the gay community responded to your work?
QL: I have been supported by the LGBT film festival circuit since my first short film I made after college. I’m not sure if I’ve broken through yet but I certainly have some kind of voice with queer media and community.
JS: Tell us a little bit about The Unbidden, is this your first time directing a horror movie, how does it stand out from the rest of your body of work?
QL: I’ve always flirted with horror and The Unbidden was the first movie I could call horror that I’ve made. It’s also similar to my other works as it’s consciously playful with the genre that it inhabits.
JS: What are some of the themes The Unbidden touches on?
QL: The Unbidden is about love and forgiveness. Can we forgive ourselves letting someone do something bad to us… and can we forgive someone who did something bad to is and was someone we loved?
JS: Unbidden has some big names in like Tamlyn Tomita from The Day After Tomorrow and Amy Hill from the fabulous show UNReal, what was it like working with such a great cast?
QL: Production was simply a breeze. We shot the movie in 12 days and it was both fun and easy.
JS: Besides your own work, any favourite LGBTI-themed media?
QL: I love what Mika does. I appreciate LGBT efforts that are unique and culturally uncompromising while having a universal quality… which is kind of what Mika and I try to do.
JS: You’ve done drama, horror and comedy, where to from here? What will you be tackling next?
QL: I’ll be tackling my first Chinese feature that I’m excited about. I look forward to make something [that's] Chinese and cool… and can be enjoyed by the rest of the world.
THE UNBIDDEN (2016)
Aroha '17 Film Festival, part of the Auckland Pride Festival 2017
6.30pm, Wednesday 15 February
Event Cinemas, Broadway, Newmarket
$20. Book at iTicket or 09 361 1000 Justine Sachs - 2nd February 2017