Singaporean film ‘#LookAtMe’ banned over “potential to cause enmity and social division”

The film premiered at the New York Asian Film Festival earlier this year in July

Singaporean film #LookAtMe has been barred from screening in the country over accusations that it denigrates a religious community and the “potential to cause enmity and social division” in the city-state.

According to reporting from CNA, the country’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) released a joint statement saying that the film has “the potential to cause enmity and social division in Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society” due to its depiction of a homophobic pastor the authorities have deemed “suggestive of a real pastor in Singapore.”

“Persons in Singapore may draw that connection. The context may be seen to be suggesting or encouraging violence against the pastor,” the statement continued. The film’s claim that it was inspired by true events was also cited as a concern by the authorities as it implies Singapore’s religious heads have always engaged in such behaviour, alongside the protagonist’s open admittance to wanting to cause harm to the pastor.

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#LookAtMe, the second feature film from Singaporean director Ken Kwek, follows the consequences of a viral post after the protagonist uploads an incendiary social media post attacking the pastor’s stance on homosexuality on behalf of his gay brother. The film premiered at the New York Asian Film Festival earlier this year in July, winning a Special Jury award for Best Performance.

Kwek and the film’s producers will be submitting an appeal for the authorities to reconsider their decision. In a statement to CNA, they argued: “#LookAtMe is a work of cinematic fiction. The film seeks to entertain and encourage conversations on important social issues that are relevant to Singapore.”

“We hope Singapore residents are given an opportunity to see this film at the Singapore International Film Festival, which has selected the film for its 2022 edition.”

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