Fan-Popo-New-Beijing-New-Marriage-300dpiUnited States: An independent Chinese film festival to give audience an insight into What’s it like to be LGBT in China will begin in Washington DC Sept 4-7.

“In big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, people are more open. But in small towns, people are not,” says Echo Xie, a native of Beijing who has lived in D.C. since moving here a few years ago to study at American University, according to

“There are a lot of really good independent Chinese films but they don’t have a lot of opportunities to be shown here in the US,” said Xie, who is deputy director of the DC Chinese Film Festival in charge of programming.

“The main films that people get to see here…[reveal] very little about contemporary China, or what lives are like nowadays in China,” she told

The festival started two years ago as a “completely community organized” event without any funding from the Chinese government which allows it to show films the communist government will not allow.

The festival will also include programs such as the screening of two short films, one exploring public attitudes about same-sex marriage in Beijing and the other about the challenges of coming out in small-town China followed by a panel discussion on the country’s broader LGBT concerns.

The festival opens Sept 4 with the film of LGBT interest, Golden Gate Girls about American filmmaker, Esther Eng. “She was the first Chinese female filmmaker in Hollywood in the ’30s and ’40s, and she was also openly lesbian,” Xie said.

“I always think watching films is the best way to learn about culture — and foster cross-cultural communication,” said Xie  who has also volunteered with other local festivals such as FilmFest DC and the Asian/Pacific-American-focused DC APA Film Festival.