Much to the dismay of many gay film enthusiasts, Solos, a made-in-Singapore movie about the relationship between a junior college student and his male teacher, will not be holding its World Premiere in its home country.
Starring veteran Singapore actor Lim Yu-Beng as the teacher, co-director and screenplay writer Loo Zi-han as the student and Goh Guat Kian as the latter's mother who suffers from depression, the dialogue-less film is said to be inspired by true events of a teacher-student relationship.
Although the public would not be able to see the film, it will be shown at a private screening for the festival's jury as it is the only Singaporean film of 11 in competition for the festival's Silver Screen awards.
The decision follows the rejection of the producers' appeal to the Board of Film Censors which had earlier rated the film R21 with three cuts in the film.
Producer Florence Ang has expressed her disappointment with the censorship board's decision. She questioned the board's rationale in defence of film festival goers whom she believes do not need to be "sheltered" by the censorship board.
"What is the benchmark in deciding what should be censored?" Ang said in an interview with Fridae.
"Viewers are making a choice when they buy their tickets," she said, noting that festival goers typically peruse programme guides and thus know what they are signing up for and are therefore unlikely to be shocked by the movie's sex scenes.
Totaling less than an estimated five minutes, the three scenes that were cut depict "scenes of homosexual lovemaking" which includes oral and anal sex scenes involving three men, and a shot of a man going down on another in the shower - behind a frosted glass panel.
When asked about how the controversial student-teacher relationship might impact the way the film is being read by a mainstream audience, Ang however prefers for viewers to consider the film's message of keeping communication channels open not only between lovers but also in parent-child relationships as evidenced in the film.
Despite its initial setback, Ang hopes for Solos to be shown at closed door screenings in Singapore in July and at foreign film festivals later in the year.