When we first discussed the idea of a showcase for queer films made in Singapore, we were both enthusiastic, but skeptical. First of all, how many queer Singaporean films existed in the first place? Queer Film Festivals are sometimes notorious for programming films that while fulfilling a certain criteria for ‘queerness’, also fell short in other respects. In other words, in our quest to fill out an evening’s programme of queer films, would we also set a bar for entry that was lower than that for other types of film festivals? Was it meaningful to aim for token representation if it meant tolerating mediocrity?
As it turned out, these concerns proved to be unfounded. Many of the short film submissions we received were professional productions of high artistic merit—some of them even winning awards at international festivals. Year after year, it was becoming increasingly clear to us that some of the more exciting and provocative films made in Singapore were made by queer filmmakers, or which explored queer subject matter. It seemed that after theatre and literature, film was becoming the newest platform for queer voices to be heard in a country where homosexual acts are still punishable by law.
Our selection for Short Circuit London provides a representative sample of the diverse range of films that we showcase each year. The animated films ‘White’ and ‘Crocodile Journals’ are both allegorical examinations of identity. At turns whimsical and witty, they explore the common phenomenon of ‘passing’ within the queer community.
Three films: ‘Autopsy’, ‘Katong Fugue’ and ‘Wet Seasons’, deal with relationships with one’s parents. Even though they are made in different forms and genres—experimental documentary, narrative film and a stop motion/live action hybrid respectively—their use of striking, and sometimes oblique, images reveal how these complex relationships often transcend the verbal.
Similarly, the films ‘Monkey Love’, ‘Don’t Say Farewell Again’ and ‘Locust’ also incorporate highly visual modes of storytelling. In exploring the intensity of romantic love, the filmmakers deploy flashbacks, manipulate film speeds, and soak their images in otherworldly colours, teasing out the links between love, time and memory.
‘Pink I/C’ offers the audience precious insight into what it means to be queer and female in Singapore. This is especially pertinent because LGBT activism in Singapore is often associated with a visible and vocal gay-centric presence. This short documentary fills this gap in representation.
Finally, what is a queer film showcase without camp—probably the most popular and subversive queer aesthetic? ‘Asian Girls Vol. 2’ frames self-orientalism as a kind of drag gesture, whereas ‘Miss A Shot’ celebrates with unabashed glee the dynamics of slippery innuendoes and mutable sexualities.
We hope you enjoy tonight’s selection.
Boo Junfeng & Alfian Sa’at
Programme Curators, Short Circuit 1, 2 & 3
Short Circuit London happens today (3rd July 2009) 8.00pm at the MPC screening room in Soho. Details here.