Singapore’s Ministry Communications and Information announced that it has dropped a short film by director Eric Khoo from its Project Lupis Sagu anthology film.
Presented by the MCI, Together Apart features four shorts that promote social inclusion and explore relations between locals and foreigners. The four films were chosen from 1,209 logline ideas submitted by the public.
Based on an idea by lab technician Tan Zi-hui, Khoo’s untitled short is a zombie musical with human protagonists that represent Singaporeans and zombies that represent foreigners. “The prejudices that locals may have against foreigners are derived largely from irrational fears and phobias. I wanted to express the message that this ‘fear of the other’ could be overcome with understanding and acceptance, not in a preachy heavy-handed way but in a light-hearted, entertaining fashion,” Khoo explained in a statement released by the MCI.
However, participants of an independent focus group raised concerns that the film might cause unintended offense and that the film might be interpreted out of context. After discussions with Tan and Khoo, the film was dropped from the omnibus.
“It was a pity that the film is not included in Together Apart, as it is a product of hard work from everyone involved. However, film-making is an art, and the appreciation of art is often subjective. This film, although meant to promote social integration, can also be misinterpreted in a drastically different way. I think this is enough reason to not release the film, as it may be used as a vehicle by viewers with ill intentions to propagate a divide between locals and foreigners in Singapore. This will no doubt jeopardise the painstaking efforts taken by MCI to promote social integration in Singapore, which is an arduous enough task as it is,” Tan said in the statement.
The other three shorts – Sanjay by K Rajagopal (A Yellow Bird), The Manifest by Sanif Olek and B.M.T. (Beijing Mumbai Tampines) by Kelvin Tong – will have their premiere on April 4th. It will be made available on the internet on the same day.
Meanwhile, Khoo is on pre-production for Singapore-Japan co-production Ramen Teh, starring Takumi Saito and Jeanette Aw.