"...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!

Monday, May 19, 2008

SIFF Review by Mathias Ortmann

SIFF Review
Mathias Ortmann | April 26, 2008

Amongst the 14 feature-length films and the four
shorts screened at the first ever Singapore Panorama
section at Sinema Old School during SIFF, there was
one documentary about the lives and times of lesbians
in Singapore. The film is Women Who Love Women:
Conversations in Singapore by Lim Mayling.
The five sell-out screenings proved the point that
there is a need for the candidness the title suggests
– let’s talk straight about being queer. Indeed, it is
the totally uncompromised approach of having three
women basically tell their personal life stories to
the camera and sharing their thoughts and experiences
openly which make the film work and worth watching.

You enter a conversation with three young women,
Sabrina, Amanda and Gea Swee, who let you in on the
stories of how they discovered their love for women
and how they established themselves in their otherness
– which turns out to be pretty normal after all. In my
opinion, that is the most refreshing and encouraging
aspect of the film: to witness a degree of clarity and
self-assuredness that is authentic and ready to tell.
The real revelation is in showing once more how the
homosexual experience (in coming out especially) is a
journey on a path of liberation, self-discovery and
universal character building. At the base of this
wholly personal pursuit is the belief that human
nature will express itself, and most truthfully when
not coerced into something which it is not, the
mandatory blending in with the norm – and this is
again, a joining find.

The level of engagement that is apparent in most of
the film’s 65 minutes of footage is nothing short of
impressive, with the un-staged presence of “real”
people who have something to say about themselves
which is not exhibitionist or vain. The interview
atmosphere and the achievement of getting to the heart
of the matter betray a technique of empathy and
identification on the part of the interviewer and
director Mayling, which is expert as much as it is
psychologically profound and frank.

Because it is nothing but talk, the film is as simple
– there is no revealing glimpses into some alien life,
even the questions are not heard but very naturally
retreat into the matrix setting of a forum provided
for the sake of having this as honestly and open an
account as possible. There is no finesse and little
refinement in this documentary, and this is its
greatest strength.

So, you will get to know them, these three, through
the straightforward arrangement and their willingness
to talk with a refreshingly uninhibited way of
addressing the issue of what it means to be a
homosexual in Singapore; and it is truly disarming.
And why not? It can be so easy, and it should be –
there is nothing wrong with being gay or lesbian, we
know this of course, but the social stigma is around
and persists. You will encounter this as well in the
film, not so much verbally, as by way of a striking
absence of the protagonists’ lovers and family. It was
part of the original idea to include them, but in the
end this testifies to the fact that for all the
frankness of these one-on-one conversations, it
remains a closed-room topic, an uneasy topic with
wider ramifications.

This is why the camera provides a crucial opening –
the confiding in film and putting a positive message
of affirmed lives of lesbian women on screen – it is a
pioneering task. Obviously it is important and there
is a need to address the issue and make it a case that
although discrimination may be subtle these days, it
does not make it any less disrespectful or wrong.

Upon reading this review, you’ll probably notice how
any discussion of Women Who Love Women becomes a
discussion of the very theme it is about, and in any
documentary of such kind, this has to be reckoned as
an achievement. Therefore – do not take it as anything
other than a political statement. There is a case
being made here that is very much needed, and just at
a time when MDA handled incoming complaints about a
commercial by dealing out a fine for the depiction of
two women kissing, “as if it was appropriate” to do

Any more questions, anyone?

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