Silencing Singapore

For Singaporean filmmaker Zihan Loo, the love that dare not speak its name doesn't require words.

BY Lawrence Ferber

June 04 2009 12:00 AM ET

SOLOS 02 X390 (PUBLICITY) | ADVOCATE.COM

How did you and Kan come to collaborate on Untitled and Solos ?I met Kan in a filmmaking workshop organized by the National Museum of Singapore in 2005. It was like an open call for filmmakers, and they accepted a wide variety of people, from students like myself to Kan, who had done a few short films before. We basically spent about week together, culminating in a short film made at the end. By pairing us up they were testing our chemistry, and I found I could work with Kan on a very instinctual, base level. We didn't need to communicate much, so from there we went on to do the bigger project, which became Solos. This workshop was also significant because several of the filmmakers went on to be quite prominent today. Kan made a lesbian flick [ Female Games ], which was banned this year at SIFF, and there was Ding An, who went on to direct a popular local film on soccer called Kallang Roar.

Did you consider using dialogue in Solos ?Yes, in the original script there was dialogue. Very minimal, and the dialogue always happened offscreen because the lack and breakdown of communication is such a critical theme in Solos. But when we got to the editing stage it became clearer that the dialogue didn't help the aesthetic at all. Especially to my codirector. I wanted to keep the dialogue because I was the scriptwriter, but in hindsight I was too close to the project. He understood and had the maturity and guts to take out all the dialogue, and it worked better because you could really focus on the music, the visuals, all aspects.

And the dancing. Are you trained as a dancer?I had been dancing intensively for one year prior to the shoot just in pursuit of a parallel passion. I specialized in the Lindy Hop, a.k.a. swing, which originated in Harlem in the 1930s. But I knew if I didn't record it now for posterity in film, in time I would lose it. And ultimately Solos itself is about the different states of the human body in dance, in sex, in love.

Tags: Film

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