Looking For (2017) directed by Tung-Yen Chou, takes you on a discovery journey together with the Director himself, to unfold the misery of digital culture within the gay community in the last five years. Director Chou creatively uses stage theatre performance as a representation of re-enactment in this documentary. It's done vividly and undeniably professionally. The brilliant scenes where Director Chou filmed himself on the train, reminds me so much of Vivian Maier's photography style. Using this style as a metaphor of the digitisation vs human interaction in this current world, It is an imagery that tells the story. All the interviewees and interviewers were all veraciously sharing their stories and feelings, about what they were looking for on the dating apps.
Looking For will be shown at 2019 Mardi Gras Film Festival on the 23rd Feb 3PM.
Get your tix at https://tix.queerscreen.org.au/Events/Looking-For-
Founder and Director of Very Mainstream Studio since 2010, Director Chou has done some incredible projects both locally and internationally including Cloudgate Dance and Ju Percussion Group. The new collaboration, Virtual Intimacy, teamed up with Edwin Kemp Attrill from ActNow Theatre in Adelaide. This collaborated performance brings Looking For onto the theatrical stage, to show how the gay community interacts digitally. Virtual Intimacy will premiere at Arts Centre Melbourne's Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts (aka: AsiaTOPA) and the National Theatre of Taiwan in 2020.
Find out more about Virtual Intimacy: https://www.virtualintimacy.org
We sat down with Director Chou and had some burning questions answered after watched Looking For.
This documentary took you four years to complete, could you tell us this journey?
It all started as I have a friend who works for the helpline in Taiwan. I asked him if I can listen to some of his friends' stories. Then one by one, I found their stories captivating. That's when I decided to start the project. We interviewed about 60 people from around the world while I was travelling or working on another theatre company's project. So, it lowers the cost down a little cause I didn't fly to New York especially just to interview one guy. Overall it took us about a year and a half to finish all the interviews. It's the post-production that really took us a very long time (almost three years for post-production).
All those 60 people you interviewed, were they all featured in the documentary?
During the first cut, I did feature a lot more interviewees but the length was too long and the narrative became disjointed. I even asked everyone to 'tell us what's the definition of love?' at the end of every interview. But it got messy and most of them can’t really define this. So, I ended up taking that part out of the documentary.
We were trying to make the whole narrative more consistent (cause it’s hard with all the different stories and voices). Then we thought, "hey, the key person to keep the narrative smoothly is actually me (the interviewer), who is on this journey all the way through and perhaps trying to find out what I am looking for as well." That’s when we started to edit more of myself into the documentary.
Did you have the script or vision about how this documentary should look like before you started it?
I had no idea what kind of documentary I was going to make. It was simply a journey of some of the questions that I'm curious to find out. I didn’t interview people like a proper reporter or journalist, but more like friends having a conversation. That's why sometimes instead of me asking the question, it ended up the other way around.
One of your interviewees called himself 'Pig' as part of the gay identity. This actually appears in the film The Story of the Stone as well. Could you tell us more about this kind of identity label in Taiwan?
I don’t think the labelling and naming started because of the dating apps. The word itself might sound negative and discriminated. But at the same time because of the dating apps, those people find themselves being loved, acceptable by those who particularly into chubby. They even started to use the word, 'Pig' as a way to empower themselves, just like the word 'Queer'.
I don't think dating apps are bad, nor the mobile technology or internet world. I look at technology as a mirror, it really depends on each individual's thought and action. So instead of blaming or focus on the negative side of news, I think we should sometimes look at the positive side too.
Did you ever think about involving female or larger LGBTIQ communities in this documentary?
My previous work My leftover ladies was all female and now Looking For is all gay male. I'm not really trying to make this as a global communities’ voices, but simply a personal journey of searching for answers. However, at the same time, I don't think this film is only for the gay community to watch. The film touches some points like human's sexual desire, behaviour, the meaning of casual sex and relationship, which really relates to everyone.
Indeed, the film is not trying to educate you about what are dating apps or have a perspective on whether dating apps are good or not. Looking For takes you through a sincere journey to find out what motivates people to use dating apps. Director Chou wants the viewers to think and ask questions after watching the film. This is a journey of searching and it hasn't got to the end yet. Technology is still changing and people are changing constantly. Perhaps we can expect Chapter two from Director Chou's upcoming new project,Virtual Intimacy in 2020.
Looking For (2017)
- Nominated for Best Documentary at 2017 Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival
- Nominated for Best Documentary at 2017 Taipei Film Festival
- Nominated for Best Documentary at 2018 Outfits Los Angeles
- Offical Selection at 2018 Seattle International Film Festival
- Offical Selection at 2017 Taiwan International Queer Film Festival
- Opening Film at 2017 Singapore Prestigious Love & Pride Film Festival
Written by Benson Wu, Edited by Sonia Luan