We at BL Xpress, are happy to announce our collaboration with popular Singaporean website, Dear Straight People. As such, we will be exchanging some of their best rated articles, that are both interesting and thought-provoking. We are starting this exchange program with this well-researched guide to every Singapore LGBT+ short film and web series that is available for free on YouTube!
In Singapore, positive LGBT+ media representation is banned on mainstream media. Suffice to say, queer filmmakers in Singapore don’t receive much support or funding. Despite Singapore’s strict media censorship laws and unsupportive environment, a handful of filmmakers have managed to overcome insurmountable challenges to produce a broad range of LGBT+ content, often times burning a hole in their wallet to do so.
Note: We will continue updating this list as Singapore produces more shorts films and web series. Let us know if we missed any!
1. Purple Light: Short Film On Army Inspired By True Events
Published in 2014 on media giant Viddsee, ‘Purple Light’ was one of Singapore’s first LGBT+ short films published on YouTube.
Through Zipeng’s eyes, Purple Light strives to tell a story about how one’s existence is bigger than their sexuality, and that no form of love should bear a label. Purple light is inspired by a true account.
2. Swing: Short Film On Ex-Boyfriends
Produced in 2013 by filmmaker Leon Cheo as a school assignment, ‘Swing’ was a hit in the film festival circuit scene, scooping up a host of awards, eventually getting licensced to streaming platform Viddsee.
Fun fact: Leon would subsequently go on to produce People Like Us; Singapore’s first gay web series.
A few weeks after Wei Long and Daniel have broken up, Daniel asks Wei Long to meet him once more.
3. Sisters 《姐妹》: A Wedding Takes An Unexpected Turn
Published in 2014 on Viddsee, Sisters 《姐妹》garnered over half a million views, making it Viddsee’s most popular LGBT short film to date.
Things take on an unexpected turn for a groom when a cheeky relative at the wedding volunteers to take on the role of a bridesmaid.
4. I AM (Part 1): Coming-Of-Age Film On National Service
Produced by Zhi Kai on his YouTube channel ‘Kai Unclassified’, I AM (Part 1) is the first of a three part short film series that seeks to explore different parts of the LGBT+ community.
You can read about the inspiration behind this short film here.
Two young men Shawn (Edwin Fong) and Darren (Kenny Seethoo) are serving National Service. In a casual interaction in camp, the two of them discover that they may be yearning more out of their friendship.
5. I AM (Part 2): Short Film On Discreet LGBT+ Relationship
The second part of Kai Unclassified‘s three part short film series, this installment stars trans performers Andrea Razali and Elijah Tay in their acting debuts.
When Joie (Elijah Tay) picks Diana (Andrea Razali), a teacher in a Singapore school, up from her workplace, the kind gesture is not well-received by Diana when probing from her colleagues sparks an argument fuelled by years of tolerance in a discreet relationship.
6. I AM (Part 3): Short Film On Parents Of A Trans Child
The third part of Kai Unclassified‘s three part short film series, this final installment looks at things from the parents perspective.
A recent discovery about 15-year-old Isaac’s behaviour leads the mother, Julie (Kavita Kaur), to decide on consulting a psychiatrist. An argument erupts with her husband David (Benedict Lin) who disagrees with her decision as he insists that his son is merely going through a phase that will pass.
7. I AM: The Gift: Two-Part Concluding Short Film
Spanning two parts, this Christmas special seeks to conclude Kai Unclassified‘s I AM series.
Shawn (Edwin Fong) has not gotten over Darren (Kenny Seethoo) even after completing his National Service. Diana (Andrea Razali) gets caught in between David (Benedict Lin) and Julie (Kavita Kaur), who continue to disagree on how they should handle their child’s Gender Dysphoria.
8. Aqua Man: Short Film On Conversion Therapy
Written and directed by professional filmmaker Jet Ho, Aqua Man was a labour of love that took Jet one month to conceptualise, script, cast and film.
You can read about Jet Ho’s filmmaking journey here.
Set in the 2000s, Aqua Man talks about the emotional transformation of a young boy, Junjie, and its religious dilemma of being a gay Christian individual in Singapore.
9. Hurt: Short-Film On Cheating In The Gay Scene
Written and directed by Kieran Chieng, ‘Hurt’ made waves when it premiered back in 2016, garnering almost half a million views.
You can read about Kieran’s filmmaking journey here.
After receving his test results, Chris deliberates his confession to Jonathan about an unforgivable mistake. He desperately wants to be comforted by his soul mate, but is at huge risk of losing him
10. Summerdaze: Singapore’s First BL (Boys Love) Short Film
A joint collaboration between fashion house The Authority, Telescope Productions and director Martin Hong, ‘Summerdaze’ is a short-film about young love set in the BL genre.
Although the 3 minute long short film did not have any dialogue, it managed to strike a chord with audiences, garnering over 600,000 views on YouTube.
Two best friends embark on a journey of discovery through Jeju Island in search of themselves and ultimately love.
11. THE CYCLE: Short Film On Family Acceptance
Written and co-directed by Benjamin Zhang, The Cycle was produced in 2020 and published on Benjamin’s own YouTube channel.
The Cycle follows the homecoming journey of a gay Singaporean man, who desires his father’s acceptance of his husband, their soon-to-be born son and ultimately, himself. The man reconnects with his childhood through a game of Chinese chess with his father, and satisfies a childhood desire to learn how to cycle from him. Through this journey, the man comes to a revelation about fatherhood and the cycle of life.
1. People Like Us: Singapore’s First Gay Web Series
Produced by Gayhealth.sg, People Like Us made history as Singapore’s first gay web drama series.
Spanning two seasons, the hit series even scored an Emmy nomination for Best Short-Form Series at the 48th International Emmy® Awards.
People Like Us follows the lives of four gay men, Joel, Ridzwan, Rai, and Isaac as they navigate lust, love, and life.
2. Getaway: Singapore’s First BL Web Series
Our very own original production, ‘Getaway’ made history as Singapore’s first gay BL web drama series.
Based on an original story from a gay creator, ‘Getaway’ sets itself apart from other BL dramas by boasting an openly gay director alongside an openly queer cast from Singapore and Thailand.
Comprising 5 episodes, ‘Getaway’ earned numerous media features, a barrage of positive comments and over 850,000 views (and counting).
After his coming out goes horribly wrong, Singaporean Sam jets off to Bangkok to search for his exiled gay uncle, where he stumbles upon Top, a hopeless Thai romantic unlucky in love.
SUPPORT LGBT+ MEDIA WORKS IN SINGAPORE
As any of the filmmakers above would attest to, it’s hard to be an LGBT+ filmmaker in Singapore.
While YouTube provides us with a platform to display our works away from Singapore’s media censorship laws, it is excruciatingly challenging to secure funding for LGBT+ productions as strict media censorship laws deter companies in Singapore from supporting LGBT+ projects.
Encouraged by the positive reception to the 1st season of ‘Getaway’, Dear Straight People hopes to produce a 2nd season of ‘Getaway’ to further promote visibility, understanding and acceptance of Singapore’s LGBT+ community.
Support Getaway’s Crowdfunding Campaign here.
This article is adapted from Dear Straight People which aims to provide a mix of LGBTQ+ content that is informative, inspiring and engaging.