Still from "Matcha & Vanilla"
Tomoko Hayakawa and Qyoko Kudo in “Matcha & Vanilla”

Matcha & Vanilla is about a lesbian couple in conservative Japan who must fight to stay together when one of them is diagnosed with terminal cancer.

The film had its world premiere at the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.

Yuki and Ai are a long-term lesbian couple living in the closet in Japan’s traditional society. When Yuki is diagnosed with terminal cancer, they must fight against their family, the hospital, and society to stay together until the end.

Never ones to shy away from difficult subjects, Australian Filmmaker Hamish Downie was ultimately inspired by the Marriage Equality debate in Taiwan and Australia to hold up a mirror to the situation faced by LGBT couples inJapan, especially those facing a serious illness and being ripped apart from their partners because of family and tradition, as well as societal issues such as poverty (rarely spoken about in LGBT films) and agism.

Hamish is tackling love and fear with his debut feature film Matcha & Vanilla, saying:  “I’ve been in a long term relationship for a while and moved to Osaka to be closer with this person. My biggest fear is that one of us gets sick, and we can financially support each other. More importantly, as we don’t have Marriage Equality in Japan if my partner got sick and went to the hospital, I might never see him again as I’m not recognised as his family. This is a real fear that all LGBT couples in Japan have. So, I wanted to hold up a mirror to that with this film. Making the film was very cathartic for me and our team.”

Hamish has been inspired by the Australian film “ThreeDollars” and “Happy Together” (one of the few LGBT films about poverty), as well as “Last Days” by Gus VanSant.

Watch// Listen to our interview with Producer / Writer Hamish Downie