Dear Tenant, the recipient of three prestigious accolades (Best Leading Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Original Screen Film Score) at the Golden Horse Awards 2020, the Oscars equivalent of the Mandarin-speaking world, will premiere in on April 1st exclusively via the global LGBTQ+ streaming platform, GagaOOLala.
The film, directed by Cheng Yu-chieh, tells the story of Lin Jian-yi (Mo Tzu-yi), a gay man who devotes his life to his dead partner’s ill mother, Zhou Xiu-yu (Yao Chun-yao), and his son nine-year-old son, Wang You-yu (Runyin Bai). But after the suspicious death of Mrs. Zhou, Lin is unjustly accused and becomes a victim of the judicial discrimination against sexual minorities.
Taiwan is often considered to be the pioneer of gay rights and recognition and a shining beacon for gay culture in all of Asia. With an estimated 130,000 people in attendance, Taiwan was the only country in the world to host an in-person gay parade in 2020 amid the global COVID outbreak, as well as the only country in Asia to have legalized same-sex marriage back in 2019. But despite such widespread advocacy, Cheng’s Dear Tenant sheds light on the grim reality of gays and other sexual minorities still facing hostility and discrimination in Taiwan with much of Taiwanese society still needing to go a long way when it comes to the full acceptance of queer people.
In a press briefing for the movie’s theatrical release in Singapore in December 2020, Cheng highlighted the need to move past such intolerance and impart the ultimate message of universal love, whether it be between people of the same or opposing sex. “Love comes in many forms, but the essence of love is the same, whether between gay people or straight people. I made this film for all the people in society who carry on loving, and are determined to love, despite facing a lot of ignorance and misunderstanding from others. I’m very moved by people who courageously express their love in the face of such stigma,” stated Cheng.
Having officially premiered at the Taipei Film Festival on 4 July 2020 with a wider theatrical release in Taiwan on 23 October 2020, Dear Tenant unanimously won the hearts of the jury at 2020’s Golden Horse Awards as it seized three out of its six nominations, one of the big winners of the night, taking home the coveted titles for Best Leading Actor (Mo Tzu-yi), Best Supporting Actress (Chen Shu-fang) and Best Original Film Score (Fran Chen). Elsewhere, the lead actor, Mo Tzu-yi, also won the title of Best Actor at the Taipei Film Festival 2020.
Mo Tzu-yi won the Golden Horse Award for Best Leading actor.
Beyond its hardships and ordeals, Dear Tenant also provides its fair share of escapism with its depiction of the picturesque rainy port of Keelung and the Mount Xueshan and Hehuanshan of central Taiwan. Shot in early 2020, the film emphasizes on the natural beauty of the island country during a time when most of the world was placed under quarantine.