From queer activist in China to adult film creator in Berlin

By: Amanda Sandström Beijer

Popo Fan understands the impact films can have, and to say the least he has also experienced it himself - from being censored by the government because of the theme of his movies to suing them and winning.

Popo Fan, queer activist and adult movie creator
Photo: Pan Jinxin

Popo is a queer film director, actor and writer who does everything from directing porn movies for Erika Lust, to documentaries about being queer in China and coming out in Chinese families.

He is also writing sci-fi porn scripts, and none of this started with a particularly big film interest. Neither with a feeling that ”movies will change the world”. Actually, he didn’t even have any particular interest in films. It pretty much started out with poor grades in math.

”I grew up in a small city on the countryside in China, with only six million people”, he explains and continues;

”I wanted to study literature, but I was terrible in math and in China you need good grades in math in order to study literature, of course” He says ironically. ”But since I spent most of my time during math classes sewing, I got really terrible grades.”

”My friend asked me why I didn’t apply for studying art instead since you don’t need math to be accepted in those universities, and so I found this film school that I applied for.”

During the interviews I pretended that I love movies and they believed me

Beijing Film Academy accepts 250 students a year, and out of 30 000 applicants after several tests and interviews, Popo was one of the lucky people who were accepted.

”During the interviews I pretended that I love movies and they believed me. But when I started out, I felt totally off since everybody in my class were very interested in films. Many of them knew that they wanted to create films already when they were born.”

Popo Fan eating ice cream
Photo: Martin Garbig