S’pore Filmmaker’s Film, #LookatMe, Banned in S’pore As It Could Cause Social Division

Last Updated on 2023-08-01 , 12:53 pm

You know what’s the best way to get noticed?

Get banned.

Because I bet you didn’t know about the film, #LookAtMe, which made its  world premiere at the New York Asian Film Festival on 23 July.

Today, the Singapore authorities have barred it from being screened in Singapore, which begs the question: what’s this film all about?

#LookAtMe by Ken Kwek

The featured film is directed by Singaporean Ken Kwek, a Cambridge graduate and former Straits Times journalist who shot to fame after his 2012 film anthology, Sex.Violence.FamilyValues, was banned a day after being shown in cinemas due to complaints for its alleged racial contents. The ban sparked a public furore in Singapore and abroad, and it was even questioned by Members of Parliament.

In January 2013, the ban was lifted, and Kwek continued to make films with controversial scenes.

In July this year, his second feature film #LookAtMe made its world premiere at the New York Asian Film Festival 23 July after being nominated for the festival’s Uncaged Award for Best Feature Film Competition.

With such critical acclaim, you’d expect cinemas in Singapore screen it like it’s a Marvel movie, but no: today (17 Oct), the  Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)  said that it had assessed the film to have exceeded the Film Classification Guidelines because “it denigrates a religious community”.

Additionally, it sought advice from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth, and they both concurred that the movie should not be given a classification. Additionally, IMDA has also asked the opinions of its advisory committees.

In other words, it’s banned from screening in Singapore since there’s no classification.

But why?

The Story of #LookAtMe

The film is allegedly “inspired by true events”, and it’s set in Singapore.

It revolves around a protagonist who is offended by a pastor’s stance on homosexuality. The protagonist uploads an incendiary social media post about the male pastor, which goes viral. This leads to a series of events that adversely affects the lives of the protagonist and his family.

As the film progresses, the protagonist considers plotting a revenge attack on the pastor. Various descriptions of the pastor (including a similar sounding title) are suggestive of a real pastor in Singapore.

According to IMDA, people in Singapore may draw a connection between the pastor in the movie and the real pastor.

The context may be seen to be suggesting or encouraging violence against the pastor.

In addition, the pastor is also portrayed engaging in an act prohibited by his professed religious faith. The allegations may be perceived to offensive, defamatory and contrary to the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act, in that it may be seen as unfairly attacking a religious figure, as well as cause offence to religious beliefs.

This has the potential to cause enmity and social division in Singapore.

The film stars yao, formerly known as Thomas Pang, Adrian Pang, Pam Oei and Ching Shu Yi, and is produced under Kwek’s production company, Eko Pictures.

Join our Telegram channel for more entertaining and informative articles at https://t.me/goodyfeedsg or download the Goody Feed app here: https://goodyfeed.com/app/

Ken Kwek’s Response

Kwek and his team said in a statement that they were disappointed at the decision, and would be submitting an appeal.

They hoped that IMDA will reverse the ban in time for the film’s planned screening in December and subsequent general release, as it has been selected for the 2022 edition of the Singapore International Film Festival.

Featured Image: Screenshot from film