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

Can you elaborate upon the film's being pulled from the SIFF and who exactly was responsible for censoring the film?It's the Board of Film Censors. It's under the Media Development Authority, which is under the Ministry of Communication, Information. and the Arts. They approve and censor all films and public screening materials in Singapore. It's ironic to have the Singapore Film Commission, which provides funding for local films, and the BFC under the same body [MDA]. Filmmakers have requested that both entities be separated. SIFF wanted to include the film in their competition lineup and submitted it to the authorities. The censors saw Solos and wanted several cuts. SIFF has the policy not to show any films that are cut -- they will be withdrawn from the festival. So the filmmakers, producer, and SIFF decided that the cuts shouldn't be made in accordance to the policy and [the film] should be withdrawn from the festival. It's the exact same case with Auraeus Solito's film in this year's festival, Boy.

Were Singapore's antigay laws a concern while making the film? And were they the reason it was censored?Honestly, the antigay laws weren't the problem -- censorship laws are. I believe even if you replace the [gay] sex scene in Solos with a graphic male-female sex scene, it will still be censored. Murder is illegal too, like anal sex, but you see people being murdered on-screen.

The actors who play the teacher and mother are both quite well-known in Singapore. As codirector, was there an advantage to playing the student and interacting with them on-screen?It helped to create the sense of trust. It also helped to create a very intimate set. Most of the time there were only two other people in the room as we filmed. In fact, the total crew and cast was probably around six people. I could also guide the scene where I wanted and see how [the other actor] responded and use that response to shape the scene. Both actors were very open and gave a lot of input. They were in fact cocreators of sorts.

Tags: Film

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