Dalam Botol (In a Bottle), a Malaysian-made film about a transgender woman recouped its production and marketing costs less than a week after opening in the conservative Muslim country.
The Guardian reports on the film by Raja Azmi Raja Sulaiman that already has earned 1 million ringgit ($330,000) at Malaysian cinemas. The film tells the story of a transgender woman who begins to believe that she would have been better off as a man, a suggestion of self-rejection that has offended LGBT audiences in the country.
Speculation that the film might be banned fueled box office interest. In recent weeks Malaysian radio stations have censored the lyrics to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” and last year the Pan Malaysian Islamic Party objected to an Adam Lambert concert.
According to The Guardian, “Malaysian films are not allowed to show support for gay lifestyles: the country still maintains a law against sodomy, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, though prosecutions are rare. Dalam Botol offers a non-explicit vision of gay romance, featuring heterosexual actors who hug but do not kiss. However Sulaiman told the Associated Press she believed the box office results ‘prove that Malaysian audiences can handle such movies, that they're more open and not so conservative any more.’ She added: ‘I hope it'll inspire more films that are meaningful and linked to the reality of people's lives.’”