The producers of LGBTQ-plus film “#LookAtMe” will no longer appeal the Singaporean authorities’ decision to prevent the film from being screened locally.
On Oct. 17, several government bodies, including Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), released a joint statement announcing that director Ken Kwek’s “#LookAtMe” will not be screened in theaters across the Southeast Asian nation. They explained that the film was banned for its “potential to cause enmity and social division in Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society.”
Following the statement’s release, Kwen and the film’s producers released their own statement, saying, “The film seeks to entertain and encourage conversations on important social issues that are relevant to Singapore. It features top filmmaking and acting talent from Singapore and beyond.” They also shared that they intended on appealing the government bodies’ decision.
However, local media outlets recently reported that they have changed their minds. On Thursday, the “#LookAtMe” team issued a statement to Mothership explaining that “after a more comprehensive assessment of the ministries’ statement and the IMDA’s appeals process,” they will no longer go through with their initial plans.
“The chances of a successful appeal [for a film with ‘LGBTQ or religious content’] are exceedingly slim,” they added.
They also shared that the IMDA Films Appeal Committee would charge them 500 Singaporean dollars (approximately $355) to consider their appeal, saying, “We do not wish to pay any additional costs or compound the loss in local box office revenue already incurred due to the ban.”
Despite the local screening ban, the producers wrote that they are “proud of the film’s achievements on the international stage.” “#LookAtMe” premiered at the New York International Film Festival in July and won the Special Jury award for Best Performance. Although it will not be played in Singapore theaters, it will still be screened at the Singapore International Film Festival in November.
The recent ban of the LGBTQ-plus films comes months after Singapore Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said in a June interview that Singaporean citizens in consensual same-sex relationships would no longer be prosecuted under a controversial colonial-era law.
Back in August, the city-state’s government announced plans to repeal Section 377A of its penal code, which criminalizes acts of “gross indecency” between men.
A daily dose of Asian America's essential stories, in under 5 minutes.
Get our collection of Asian America's most essential stories to your inbox daily for free.
Unsure? Check out our Newsletter Archive.