What you need to know
Earning NT$100 million is not just a reflection of the movie's individual success. It will lay the foundation for more films that bring LGBT+ topics mainstream in Taiwan.
Your Name Engraved Herein became the first LGBT-themed blockbuster to surpass NT$100 million in sales, a symbolic target of success in Taiwan’s film industry. Typically only one or two films a year reach this mark, and the 100 million-threshold has such power that the word meaning “breaking 100 million” (poyi, 破億) is used to refer to films with this status.
The film has topped all LGBT-themed films screened in Taiwan to date, including international hits like Brokeback Mountain. It was also the best selling 2020 Taiwanese blockbuster for two consecutive months until Little Big Women crossed the magic line last week. The success of the coming-of-age romance can be attributed to its ability to reach non-LGBT audiences with its universal theme of love transcending stigmas around gender and sexual orientation.
Breaking NT$100 million is also a sign of the movie’s active post-release life. The director Patrick Liu revealed in a recent screening Q&A session that he included the legendary Chi Chia-wei marriage equality activist to highlight past battles in the decades-long progress Taiwan has achieved on LGBT rights. The Taipei Film Festival version screened last Friday included a highly anticipated alternate cut, with scenes delving into A-Han and Birdy up against a heterosexual-dominant world. This cut best portrays Liu’s own struggles, as Your Name Engraved Herein’s plot is an adaptation of Liu’s personal story.
The film’s crew, from lead actor Edward Chen, Liu, to producer Arthur Chu and others, have spoken out on social awareness of LGBT-issues. They have organized floats at Asia’s largest LGBT event Taiwan Pride Parade, hosted panels at universities, and staged rainbow-themed screenings. The crew also promoted awareness in more conservative parts of Taiwan by joining Kaohsiung Pride and Tainan Pride.
Chen, who played the lead character A-Han, said in an interview that acting in the movie improved his relationship with an LGBT sibling while helping her become more comfortable with LGBT sexuality. Liu was able to come out to his mother through directing this film. At the many promotional events that both have attended, they have shared their passion for making Taiwan more LGBT inclusive and embracing different forms of family and love. The promotional work they’ve done, like the film itself, has done much to cast a light on the many barriers same sex couples face in feeling compelled to conform to tradition and religion, and has kindled many conversations within Taiwanese families in which coming out is still taboo.
But all the advocacy work aside, what shouldn’t be forgotten is the power of the movie itself. Chen’s deep and genuine portrayal of A-Han won him the nomination for best new performer at the Golden Horse Awards. Your Name Engraved Herein won two awards for best theme song and choreography this year.
Crowd Lu remotely performed the theme song from his Kaohsiung concert through a live broadcast into the awards ceremony with Chen joining him on stage in Taipei. The theme song shares the film’s title on A-Han and Birdy’s epic, forbidden love in a Taiwan which had just emerged from marital law. Not only does the song still claim the top spot on charts in Taiwan, it also brought together Chinese speaking artists — the songwriters flew in from Singapore and Malaysia for the awards ceremony. Winning this award has raised LGBT awareness in the songwriters’ native countries, both of which still censor LGBT media content and where laws criminalizing gay sex have yet to be repealed.
Your Name Engraved Herein earning NT$100 million in sales is just more proof of its ability to create awareness on LGBT relationships, while showcasing Taiwan’s soft power on progress and human rights. Apart from the focus on different forms of love in this film, this year’s Golden Horse best actor and supporting actress winners went to Dear Tenant, another LGBT-themed film about in-law family acceptance. An unexpected boost came from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen when she congratulated and promoted both films on social media. Yu Mei-nu, Claire Wang, and other prominent pro-human rights legislators and activists also lent their voices in support of the film.
With the Covid-19 pandemic causing many movie theaters to shutter, Your Name Engraved Herein will be available worldwide on Netflix starting December 23. It is also anticipated that the director’s cut will be released sometime next year, bringing back 40 minutes that add depth to A-Han and Birdy’s relationship. Achieving the 100 million milestone is not just a reflection of the movie's individual success, but will lay the foundations for more films that bring LGBT+ topics mainstream in Taiwan.
Editor: Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)
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