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Singapore gay films

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 9 months ago

'Singapore gay films' include films that address [LGBT]-related subject matter to some degree.


In contrast to the numerous local theatre productions dealing with [LGBT] subject matter which have burgeoned since the late 1980s (see [Singapore gay theatre]), there is to date not a single film entirely produced by Singaporeans in Singapore belonging to this genre. The probable reasons for this are the much larger and riskier investment outlay for movie production, and the lack of Government and perceived mainstream community support for such films.


==[LGBT]-themed films==

===[Bugis Street]===

A 1995 [Hong Kong]-[Singapore] co-production about the lives of [Singaporean] [transvestite]s in a bygone era. It was a minor hit at the box office on account of its R(A) (Restricted (Artistic)) rating and its nostalgic evocation of a seedy but colourful aspect of Singaporean culture, prior to the redevelopment of Bugis Street into a modern shopping district and the eradication of transvestite activities in the area. [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0111788/]


16-year old Lien, winningly portrayed by Vietnamese actress [Hiep Thi Le], is this [Yonfan]-directed, [Jacky Tang]-lensed and [Fruit Chan] and [You Chan]-co-scripted offering’s main protagonist. Despite her having worked for a time as a servant in a household whose "young master" adored her in her hometown of Malacca, West Malaysia, the young lass comes across as having led a surprisingly sheltered life. She journeys to Singapore to seek employment as a maid in the Sin Sin Hotel along Bugis Street.


She seems thoroughly content for a time to possess a naïve, romanticised view of the rambunctious goings-on at the hotel where she witnesses "the sad departure of an American gentleman" from the home-cum-workplace of "his Chinese girl". The guest is actually a presently-sober but angry American sailor who has belatedly discovered that the Singaporean Chinese prostitute he picked up in Bugis Street and spent a drunken night with happens to be a [transwoman].


Before long, the newbie employee Lien finds out that many of the long-term lodgers of the budget establishment, whose room rental rate is S$3, whether it be for an hour or the entire day and night, are "women" who were born with male bodies. Although her first reaction to seeing someone with breasts and a penis is one of vomit-inducing revulsion which causes her to contemplate fleeing the neighbourhood, she ends up not giving in to her impulses.


Instead, she listens to, then heeds, the warm cajoling of Lola, the transvestite hotel resident who has treated her well from the start of her stint. She comes to be unperturbed by the unique, complex personalities of the unorthodox community, who in turn also begin to accept her.


As she learns to look beyond the surface, she is rewarded with the generous friendship of the cosmopolitan and sophisticated Drago, who has returned from Paris to minister to his/her dying but loving and tolerant mother.


While Lien learns the ways of the world via her encounters with Meng, the slimy, often underdressed boyfriend of Lola, as well as night-time escapades on the town with the Sin Sin Hotel’s other denizens, she begins to see beauty in unlikely places and to grow despite the presence of ugliness in an imperfect world.


===[Rice Rhapsody]===

'Rice Rhapsody' (alternative title 'Hainan Chicken Rice') (Chinese]: ????, literally meaning [Hainanese chicken rice]) was a [2004] [Hong Kong] production directed by [Kenneth Bi]. The cast included formerly popular [Taiwanese] actress [Sylvia Chang] and celebrity [Chinese-American] chef [Martin Yan]. The plot revolved around a contemporary [Singaporean] divorcée grappling with the [homosexuality] of her 2 eldest sons and dramatised her efforts to steer her third and youngest son's [sexuality]. [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0383388/]


It bombed at the box office and was panned especially by [gay] critics as being too artificial in its representation of [Singapore] life.


*Read reviews of the movie by [Yawning Bread], [Charles Tan] and [Ken Lee]: [http://www.yawningbread.org/arch_2005/yax-418.htm]

*Watch a trailer of the movie: [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kzV6qvOJ-8] and "the making of": [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7FPXhSrQG0]


===[Beautiful Boxer]===

A film biography of a [transsexual] Thai] [kickboxer] directed by [Singapore]-based [Ekachai Uekrongtham], along with the input of [Singapore] [gay] talent. [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0401248/]


Based on the true story of Thailand's famed transgender [kickboxer], Beautiful Boxer is a poignant action drama that punches straight into the heart and mind of a boy who fights like a man but feels like a woman.


Believing he is a girl trapped in a boy's body since childhood, [Parinya Charoenphol] (affectionately known as [Nong Toom] in [Thailand]) sets out to master the most masculine and lethal sport of [Muay Thai] ([Thai boxing]) to earn a living and to achieve his ultimate goal of total femininity. Touching, funny and packed with breathtaking Thai kickboxing sequences, Beautiful Boxer traces [Nong Toom]'s childhood, teenage life as a travelling monk and gruelling days in boxing camps. Shot in 9 provinces across [Thailand] and in [Tokyo], the film also features a series of explosive matches where [Nong Toom] knocks out most of his opponents in [Thailand] and [Japan].


Directed and produced by Singapore-based, ethnic Thai director [Ekachai Uekrongtham], the film stars [Asanee Suwan], a real-life kickboxing champ as [Nong Toom]. The role earned him the 2004 [Supannahongsa Award] (Thailand's equivalent to the Oscar]) for Best Actor. Beautiful Boxer also features compelling performances by Thailand's award-winning actor [Sorapong Chatree] in the role of [Nong Toom]'s coach and former Miss Thailand [Orn-Anong Panyawong] as Nong Toom's mother.


[Kyoko Inoue], one of [Japan]'s top female wrestlers plays herself in the film. She has fought with [Nong Toom] in real life back in 1988. That historical match was reenacted for the film in a dramatic sequence shot at the [Tokyo Dome]. Nearly all of [Nong Toom]'s opponents in the film are also professional kickboxers in real life.


==Films with [LGBT] sub-plots==

===[Saint Jack]===

A film made in 1979 by American director [Peter Bogdanovich].


The story was set against Singapore as a US military-approved rest and relaxation ([R&R]) destination for US troops in [Vietnam] circa the early 1970s. The movie was banned locally because it portrayed Singapore in bad light, namely showing that (a) the sex trade was flourishing, (b) it was semi-officially sanctioned and (c) Singapore supported the losing side in the [Vietnam War]. [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079843/]


Much of it was about how [pimp]s like the protagonist, American [Jack Flowers] (played by actor [Ben Gazzara]) supplied girls to the [GI]s barracked at [Shelford Road], a fact corroborated by university students at the [Bukit Timah] campus.


But a sub-plot featured a conservative US senator who preferred gay sex. A notable segment in the film showed the senator (played by one-time James Bond actor George Lazenby) picking up a late-teenager named Tony along [Orchard Road] and bringing him to his hotel room for sex. Male stripping and a shower scene were shown.


The film recorded for posterity that there were [rentboy]s plying their trade along [Orchard Road] during those days. This could have been related to presence of [Le Bistro] along [Scotts Road] and [Pebbles Bar] at the [Hotel Singapura Continental]. The movie was allowed to be shown just once during a [Singapore Film Festival] and is still on the banned list. The Singaporean actor, [Edward Tan], who played Tony the [rentboy] created a first in Singapore gay film history. However, according to Bogdanovich, all the Singaporeans who were given screen roles were not really 'actors' at all, but simply recruited from a casting call. (External link:[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079843/])


===[Army Daze]===

[Michael Chiang]'s stage-to-screen adaptation of the trials and tribulations of a motley bunch of army recruits featured an effeminate [Eurasian] man whose main aim in life was to become a housewife in [Ang Mo Kio]. However, his platoon mates were flabbergasted when he breezed through the obstacle course with more speed and [sang-froid] than any of them. [http://www.imdb.com/find?s=all&q=Army+Daze]


===[Forever Fever]===

One of Singaporean director [Glen Goei]'s early local productions which was distributed in America under another title. It also dealt with transgender themes, alongside the movie's main light-hearted romance, as Hock's elder brother reveals his desire for a sex-change operation to his unreceptive traditionalist Chinese family.


===[15 (film)]===

The Singapore Government banned 27-year-old's [Royston Tan]'s visually explosive and shocking 2003 film. Part social realism, part documentary and part cinematic adventurism, 15 follows a group of teenage outsiders grappling with violence, drug running, prostitution, piercings and thoughts of suicide. Quietly, amidst the madness, they find moments of tenderness in each other's arms. Tan looks to [MTV] and popular culture for his technique, mixing Chinese graphics with short colourful scenes, voiceovers and rewinds. Attention grabbing, over stimulating, this is not however strictly a gay film. Tan's weaving of tenderness and sexuality is [homoerotic], providing a window onto the homosexual bonding that takes place in adolescence - the first needs and touches before sexuality becomes more fixed. The result is an astonishing if at times gut-wrenching experience. [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0155713/]


===[Be With Me]===

Acclaimed local director [Eric Khoo]'s 2005 production was the first major homegrown motion picture to feature scenes of female coupling in the form of 2 touchy-feely teenage schoolgirls (played by waifish actresses [Ezann Lee] and [Samantha Tan]), who fall in love as quickly as they fall out of it. They tenderly stroke each other's arm and face, cuddle under the sheets and in cinema halls, and share an intense 10-second kiss on the mouth. Although Be With Me is rated M18 with no cuts, the authorities were not exactly throwing caution to the wind. The movie's original poster featuring both girls lying on some steps and locked in an embrace in a scene from the movie has been banned in Singapore and replaced with an image of a man necking with Samantha Tan. According to a spokesman of Warner Brothers, which distributed the movie locally, the [Media Development Authority] ([MDA]) stated that the original was 'not suitable as a PG poster' because the graphics 'implied content of a homosexual nature'. [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0463903/]


===[Singapore Ga-Ga]===


==Films with cross-dressing actors==

=== Liang Po Po: The Movie ===

[Liang Po Po: The Movie] is comedian [Jack Neo]'s large screen production of his frequent television drag] spoof]s of a doddering, bumbling but lovable old lady and her exploits. [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0170161/]


Gay Films]



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