GagaOOLala held a press conference on February 12th to announce its new original title for this year’s Saint Valentine’s: 5 Lessons in Happiness, a collection of five queer comedy shorts dealing with the different meanings of love. Among the short directors are Zero Chou (winner of the Teddy Award for Spider Lilies, and director of the first Singaporean lesbian series Handsome Stewardess), Adiamond (creator of the BL series Dark Blue and Moonlight), and Fox (director of the controversial gay short Sodom’s Cat). The cast includes local stars like Ding Ning, winner of the Golden Horse for Best Supporting Actress in 2018, and international ones like Malaysian Kuang Tian, who recently starred in the Netflix original series The Ghost Bride. All 5 stories will be available for free on GagaOOLala this Friday February 14th, just in time to celebrate queer love!
Director Zero Chou was the one in charge of developing the masterplan and scripts for 5 Lessons in Happiness. Since same-sex marriage was finally legalized last year in Taiwan, Chou said that she wanted to tell these stories in a more relaxed, celebratory way, and she thought that comedy felt closer to life: “Our writing team is quite diverse. We spent a month discussing what topics we wanted to focus on, and ultimately decided on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and family love.”
The Taiwanese director also confessed that she has been now shooting queer films for a long time. In the past two years, in order to promote gay marriage, she has been working intensively to produce as many films as possible, series and MVs focused on queer topics. She is completely exhausted: “My plan was to foster upcoming directors to join me in queer production. I hope that I will not be the only one going down this road… I will drag other people to hell with me!”
Jay Lin, founder of the streaming platform GagaOOLala, is also the producer of 5 Lessons in Happiness. He was responsible for inviting other directors to join the project. When asked how was the selection process, he mentioned: “We particularly looked for directors with links to LGBTQ+ issues, either queer themselves or those who have directed titles with queer characters, so they can more empathize with the topics. We were very happy with our final selection.” Lin also said that after reading the 5 scripts he shouted, “Oh my god! This is so exciting, but they all are so short!” Therefore, GagaOOLala decided to release a survey together with the films where viewers can vote how they would like the stories to continue. The stories with more votes will be made into feature films incorporating the choices from the audience.
Here are the 5 short films that are releasing:
Directed by: Huang Ting Chun (Fox)
Cast: Adam Lin, Paul Chiang, Huang Guan Zhi
A professional swimmer insecure about his “size” since he was young is unable to land a boyfriend. During a race, his swimsuit comes off, and his small secret is exposed to everyone there. After a month in isolation, Hsuan is encouraged by a friend to go back to the pool again. He then runs into his junior classmate, Fong, who he had a crush on. Will he overcome his shame and finally find love?
Directed by Nancy Chen
Cast: Eliza Peng, Jolin Yan, Lynn Chin
FeiFei, a married writer that has just released a best-selling novel, starts an affair with her publisher AiKi. As FeiFei becomes more and more infatuated with AiKi, she starts to wonder whether she is lesbian or bisexual.
She Is my Father
Directed by Hsieh Chih Wen
Cast: Lin You Xing, Ying Wei Min, Guo Si Yu
Hsiang suddenly gets a call from her daughter Ling who she has not seen for the past ten years. Ling is now 18 and pregnant. She comes to Taipei to ask her father for shelter. But Ling has no idea that Hsiang is now a she. Fearing that Ling finds out, Hsiang wants her boyfriend to pretend to be her, while she will play the girlfriend role. How will Hsiang get along with Ling? Should she come out to Ling as her mother?
Directed by Adiamond Lee
Cast: Ding Ning, Yang Li Yin
Li-hua, a drag show manager in Japan, gets a call from Taiwan. After 30 years abroad, she goes back home, where she thought she would never return and reunites with the old flame she left behind: her sister-in-law. When they meet again, the intense attraction they felt for each other reappears instantly. Li-hua wants to make up for all the lost time, but how can they be together?
Directed by Zero Chou
Cast: Sean Shao, Kuang Tian, Peggy Wu
A gay couple Even after same-sex marriage has been legalized in Taiwan, Feng and Fong cannot still get married due to family pressures. When Fong’s student, Sayuri, seeks his help to get an aborting, Fong comes up with a different plan… is this there chance to start a family?
The five shorts in 5 Lessons in Happiness have an open ending, leaving in the audiences’ hands to decide which happy ending they want for the characters. All of the viewers that participate in the survey will also have the chance to earn prizes, such as watches and professional hair products, valued up to 250 USD. Also, the most watched of the five films will have a feature film version. 5 Lessons in Happiness will be exclusively available on www.gagaoolala.com for free on Valentine’s Day, February 14th.