Saturday, July 25, 2009

Filmmaker turns valedictory speech into protest

Singaporean filmmaker Loo Zihan turned his valedictory address into a protest speech at the first graduation ceremony of the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University.

The Pleasure Factory actor had been asked to change the poster of his thesis short film, Threshold, which depicts a man, stripped naked from waist up, standing in front of a bathroom mirror, with another man's hands touching him, and the reflection of the other man (Zihan) can be seen in the mirror.

AsiaOne has the story. Here's an excerpt:

Valedictorian Loo Zihan said he had wanted to talk about "integrity" and "breaking new boundaries" in his original speech but changed his mind due to a recent incident.

Last Friday, he received a note to change the poster for his thesis film as it was deemed "inappropriate" for display during the convocation ceremony. He said:

"My first thought was to make the changes to the poster as required - but subsequently, as I was practicing for this speech, I realized that I could not say the words I drafted originally with conviction and authority by subjecting my work to censorship which I did not understand. I felt a sense of responsibility to my fellow graduates, who have voted me in as Valedictorian to speak up on their behalf."

The entire address and a video of his speech are at Zihan's blog.

Zihan's films were featured earlier this year in a retrospective in Bangkok, including a rough cut of Threshold, which is about an undercover policeman coming to terms with his sexuality.

In director Ekkachai Uekrongtham's Pleasure Factory, Zihan portrays a young soldier who's taken to Singapore's Geyleng brothels to lose his virginity. His films also include the feature Solos, the shorts Autopsy and Untitled and the two-channel video-art installation Sophia Raffles.

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