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Film recommendation: Spider Lilies

Celebrate the start of Lesbian Visibility Week with Taiwanese film Spider Lilies, an award-winning, delicate examination of desire, loss and hurt, available to watch via Queer East until 2 May.

Jade is an 18-year-old web cam model who reconnects with her childhood crush, Takeko, a tattoo artist who is a few years older than her. Both young women are hiding their pain: Jade lives with her grandmother after her mother ran off; Takeko looks after her disabled brother whose memory was lost when their father died in an earthquake.

The film takes us on a gentle journey through the young women as they explore their complicated feelings for each other, and whether a childhood crush can translate to adult love, while also examining pain – of being inked, of loss, of familial guilt. It all has a dreamlike quality, dancing around reality.

There are a couple of subsidiary stories – a gentle policeman who falls for Jade while spying on her, the travails of Takeko’s brother – and these are less successful, but the film has a lovely vibe. I for one grinned with glee on Lesbian Day of Visibility when Jade’s outfit changed in the final scene from her usual cute outfits and school uniform (chosen rather than enforced, it seems), designed to attract the web cam customers, to rocking neon green hair, black waistcoat, low slung shorts and power boots.

Celebrating Lesbian Week of Visibility, I will try to recommend a lesbian film a day – if time allows!

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