In a country where homosexuality is often seen either as a disease or a source of ridicule, Vietnam's first film to feature love and intimacy between gay men is beginning to change attitudes. Curious filmgoers have streamed into cinemas to catch "Lost in Paradise".
The movie charts the doomed love affair between a gay prostitute and a book seller, offering a rare glimpse into a usually hidden side of Vietnam. Khoi (Ho Vinh Khoa), 20, goes to Ho Chi Minh City to start his career. After being swindled and losing all his money, he meets Lam (Luong Manh Hai) and the two begin a same-sex relationship.
Homosexuality remains largely taboo in communist Vietnam, where traditional Confucian social attitudes, with their emphasis on tradition and family, remain dominant. Gays are routinely portrayed as comical figures or as people suffering from a condition that can be treated, something the makers of "Lost in Paradise" hope to help change.
"We just want to contribute so that gays are better accepted in our society. They don't need sympathy or understanding. They need equality", said Luong Manh Hai, who stars in the movie and co-wrote the script.
The film, directed by Vu Ngoc Dang, has been well received by critics at home and abroad, and will be screened at the Berlin International Film Festival in February before a general DVD release in October.
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