April 6, 2008
A documentary about three lesbians has become a quiet hit at the Singapore International Film Festival
By Deepika Shetty
When Su-Lin Ngiam posted an online call in 2006 asking lesbians to share their experiences for a documentary she wanted to make, no one came forward.
'It shows there is a lot of fear when it comes to talking about same sex relationships in public,' says the theological studies student.
Given the lack of response from the community, Ngiam, 34, turned to her friends and three agreed to talk on camera.
Ms Sabrina Renee Chong, 40, a freelance events consultant and photographer, Ms Amanda Lee, 24, a student, and Ms Gea Swee Jean, 24, a business & IT marketing professional are featured in the 65-minute documentary, Women Who Love Women: Conversations In Singapore.
The documentary, which has an R21 rating, has proven to be a small hit at the Singapore International Film Festival. Four screenings have already sold out and tickets to the fifth screening today are selling fast.
The documentary is being screened at Sinema, Old School, in
Mr Philip Cheah, 50, the festival director, says the documentary has made an impact because 'you see people as themselves. The fact that these women have come such a long way in realising their dreams is moving people and encouraging them to watch it.'
Director Lim Mayling, 28, an events coordinator who studied film-making, says she is surprised at the warm response. The documentary was screened privately last year at the Pelangi Pride
Centre in Tanjong Pagar.
She says she shot the three women talking about their lives and the 'talking heads' technique goes against what she was taught in her media studies course at the
'But in this case, it works, it is the story of their lives and my idea was to get it across as honestly as I could.'
Ms Chong says she agreed to appear in the documentary because she wants to share her experience with other people who are in the same situation.
'When I was growing up, the Internet was non-existent, there were Hardly any support groups, you couldn't come clean.'
She says that she never came out to her family 'officially' . Her parents Split up when she was two years old and she was brought up by her grandmother and other relatives. Her father later died and her mother is in
'My grandmother knew about my sexual orientation but we never talked about it. But she and my relatives accepted it.'
Her girlfriend, a 30-year-old producer, joins her family at family events.
Ms Lee, an undergraduate at the
There were 'a lot of tears, angry words' and her mother, an office administrator, refused to accept her sexual orientation.
'Our relationship deteriorated because I could not share an important part of my life with her.'
But her mother has since come around and comforted her when one of her relationships failed, she says.
The third woman in the documentary, Ms Gea, declined to be interviewed.
Ms Chong thinks that the climate has become more tolerant of gay people in recent years. Government leaders have spoken of treating homosexuals like everybody else and employing them in the civil service. She says: 'People don't fall backwards when they see gay women holding hands.'
But the biggest comfort for her has been the acceptance of her family.
'When my grandmother passed away when I was in my late 20s, my girlfriend and I were by her side. I think what was important for me was the fact that my grandmother loved me unconditionally through all of it.' Sabrina Renee Chong
Women Who Love Women: Conversations In Singapore is showing at
the Singapore International Film Festival. For details, visit www.filmfest.org.sg
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