"...you see people as themselves. The fact that these women have come such a long way in realising their dream is moving people and encouraging them to watch it"
- Philip Cheah, Festival Director (Singapore Int'l Film Festival) on the popularity of the documentary

About the Documentary

One of the few documentaries ever made about lesbians in Singapore, this documentary, filmed in 2006 uses interview footage with three Singaporean lesbians -Amanda Lee, Sabrina Renee Chong and Gea Swee Jean, to get a rare glimpse into lesbian lives in Singapore.

Intimate and often candid, these lesbians share about their lives and loves and their views on topics such as coming out and relationships. Sometimes heartbreaking, and often times, funny, the documentary captures the lives of lesbians who have chosen to live authentically and is a testament to the courage, tenacity and experiences of lesbians living in Singapore.

For more information, to join the mailing list or to RSVP for screenings, please email womenwholovewomensingapore@yahoo.com

Watch the Documentary Here!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Review by Sze Wei

It is 2007, and lesbian sexual relations have received de facto legitimacy with the repeal of section 377 of the penal code. The gay community in Singapore has more community resources than ever before. More and more men and women are making their stories public.

It is 2007. Three more talking heads come out on film. Will we remember them?

Amanda, one of the women interviewed in the film, wraps her tongue around Women who love women (WWLW) and explains it as a gentler acronym for “lesbian”, because “nobody can fault love”. At the time of this review, WWLW has been shown at festivals in Hong Kong and KL, but only in private screenings in Singapore. Producer Ngiam Su Lin explains that she and Director Lim May Ling are still trying to find a Singapore venue that will host a public screening.

With each screening, the room gets more and more crowded. When I first saw WWLW in July 2007 in tiny Bianco, I sat with somebody else’s knee jammed in my back, the seating was so tight. At the film’s sixth screening at Mox this December, men and women who had no seats lined the room and stood throughout its 60 Mins. They’d heard about this film, and they wanted to see for themselves. So 80-odd packed into the room to get intimate with the bubbly Amanda (24), androgynous Sabrina (40) and puckish Swee Jean (24).

Many lesbians I have spoken to identify deeply with the women in the film. Many other lesbians do not. But the faces and words of WWLW remain with you after the film is over, because of the honesty with which they are given. Lounging in luminous sitting rooms or drawing you into the privacy of their homes and childhood photographs, the three tell you what being lesbian is to them. It is first loves, coming out trauma, "it's always full and fulfilling .. it's like second skin" (Sabrina). It is toilet evictions, and label-mad Singapore where “people who don't belong in a category belong in a category” (Swee Jean). Simply and directly, they explain how they have made sense of the prejudice and tolerance in their lives, and what has coloured their choices in relationships, religion, work and fashion.

When you come out of the closet, your family and friends walk into a bigger closet with you. A rare and refreshing feature of this documentary is the other side of the coming out story, from straight friends of Amanda and Swee Jean. It is a touching moment when Amanda and her best friend declare that their friendship doesn't change even though they don't agree on how God sees gay people. Swee Jean's chums tell how they rallied around her in her coming out school days.

But this labour of love is at times laborious – my sympathies to the folks in standing room. In a bid to preserve the authenticity of the dialogue, the raw-edged editing ambles on past the average attention span, interspersed with unnecessary, stuffy quotes from Andre Gide and Sappho. Shot in the months before the repeal of Section 377 of the Penal Code (which could be interpreted as criminalising sex between women), the film jolts from personal anecdotes into a draggy spiel on statutory discrimination.

Nonetheless, WWLW will be an important document of Singapore lesbians today and the society in which we live. It is also a clarion for change. Towards the close of the film, Swee Jean gives the film's rationale: “It's so difficult for [lesbians] to see positive representations of ourselves anywhere...the problem is that so many of us are in the closet. Till we come out and have the guts to say 'we are here', all these [women] will be seen as being straight. Otherwise, why should anything change?”