Who is SCUD?

Posted on Thu 17 Nov by AlexK /

Read about the infamous provocateur behind Utopians, premiering Saturday at Fringe!


“All the love films I watch seem to have happy endings; but in my observation, many romances actually end with sadness or even disaster,”

We’re incredibly excited this Fringe! to premiere the new work of infamous Chinese cine-provocateur Scud - or, as he lays it out in the trailer, his SENTIMENTAL SEDUCTIVE SENSUAL SOCRATIC SACRIFICIAL SIXTH FILM, Utopians. A thorn in the side of China’s film censors, Scud has built a reputation as the enfant-terrible of modern Chinese cinema, with films that express a distinctly modern and childlike cheek: a queer sensibility that is fresh and emboldened by its restrictive context and surroundings. His films generate excitement long before their release (if they get a release, that is) due to the lengthy and public process of censorship and cuts requested by the Hong Kong and Taiwan censors. Historically known for refusing to cut scenes and storylines featuring incest, rape, and unsimulated sex acts, Scud says, ‘I am not attempting to be particularly sensational. All these cases actually happened!’ He asserts himself to be a realist.

Scud’s films are openly queer. In fact, they nonchalantly glide from the closet frequently within the films’ dialogues, with characters outing one another, prying for information and clarification, and revelling in the ‘trying on’ of queer labels. A casual attitude to sex is also palpable in Scud’s world - something played off against a notion of conservativism in many of his films (although once again this conservativism could be a Western assumption Scud stokes consciously). Utopians cleverly and coyly positions hot, unrestrained gay sex against the Hong Kong skyline, situating these lives and experiences firmly within the pride of the supercity. By positioning gay sex in front of lustrous images of the iconic skyline, Scud adopts the silky visual style of Hong Kong cinema to inscribe a world of pansexual delights directly into the city’s architecture. He engages with, and expands the associations of his culture, whilst proudly flirting with the renegade reputation attached to him. In Utopians, Scud dissects pansexuality in the context of a city with a seemingly progressive facade.

His latest and sixth film Utopians succinctly and beautifully captures Asian sensibilities on sex and polyamory as a taboo and the body as a vehicle of hidden desires. Utopians tells the story of Hins who fantasises about sex with men, and encourages his girlfriend to explore their fantasies with one another. What follows is a veritable banquet of fantasy scenarios - with emotions and limits viscerally tested in every scene. Through these intimacies, SCUD is able to unearth raw and human truths about desire and the body (and what it hides or expresses).

But information on the mastermind behind this controversy is sparse - quotes from interviews with the director tend to consist of soundbites that propagate his reputation, i.e ‘You have to love someone to suck someone,’. In a 2011 interview promoting Love Actually… Sucks, Scud is asked whether the main objection of the censors: the prevalence of full-frontal male nudity in his films, is necessary. He quips back, ‘Oh, very much so’.

It is unclear, but I suspect Scud’s comments regarding his filmic ethos come with a sarcastic nod - a queer wink - to the fact of his controversy. He may have accurately recognised the necessity of normalising the destruction of these rules to encourage the other liberals (and not just artists) surrounding him to be less restricted. Scud is undoubtedly making the landscape of Hong Kong cinema more dynamic with his glorious, orgiastic, confrontative style of cinema.


Catch the UK premiere of his new film UTOPIANS as part of Fringe! this Saturday at the Rio Cinema in Dalston. Last tickets available here: bit.ly/FringeUtopians