#LookAtMe is the latest film by Singaporean film director Ken Kwek. Inspired by similar real-life events, Kwek explores the effects Singapore’s anti-gay laws, discrimination, surveillance, and human rights issues have on a mother and her two sons.
Sean and Ricky Mazuki (both played by Yao) are twins in their late teens who live with their mother Nancy (Pam Oei). Theirs is a warm-hearted close-knit family household. Ricky is gay and Sean has a girlfriend Mia (Shu Yi Ching). Both guys are avid YouTubers but the family pranks they share online don’t gain much traction. One night Mia invites the twins to a religious musical festival the Holy Cross Baptist Church – to please her conservative parents. The flamboyant pastor of the church, Josiah Long, (Adrian Pang) spouts a very homophobic sermon, which angers both brothers and they walk out of the service. Seeking revenge, Sean decides to post a YouTube video ridiculing the pastor. The video quickly goes viral and many people in the congregation complain to the police. Sean gets arrested and eventually convicted and sent to jail for breaking the law on public obscenity, spreading fake news and hurting religious feelings. Sean points out to the police that the pastor is the person doing all of that but, under Singapore laws, the pastor is protected. Sean’s arrest and imprisonment set off a chain of events that severely tests each member of the family.
Kwek’s film is well shot and cast. I loved Hossan Leong who plays Sean’s rather flamboyant lawyer Butch Loh. There is great chemistry between the family members and the plot takes a refreshingly unpredictable route whilst spreading its important political message.
The timing of this film’s release is relevant as this August the Singapore government announced that they plan to repeal section 377a of the Criminal Code, a British colonial-era law that effectively made adult consensual sex between men a criminal offence. However, at the same time, the Singapore government also announced that they plan to strengthen the laws on marriage being between one man and one woman. Repealing section 377a is a critical step for Singapore but much work remains to be done to end discrimination against queer people in Singapore. This film has actually been refused a classification in Singapore, which effectively bars it from being shown there. The reason for the non-classification is the film’s “potential to cause enmity and social division”. Good luck to our queer brothers and sisters in Singapore.
P.S. Ris Fatah reviewed this movie at OUTshine Film Festival in Fort Lauderdale
Queerguru’s Contributing Editor Ris Fatah is a successful fashion/luxury business consultant (when he can be bothered) who divides and wastes his time between London and Ibiza. He is a lover of all things queer, feminist, and human rights in general. @ris.fatah