Six films about sexuality in student film festival

Jeanette Tan
Singapore Showbiz

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is still a midnight staple in cinemas around the world. (Photo courtesy of Perspectives Film Festival)

If you've always wondered what the fuss over The Rocky Horror Picture Show was about, an upcoming student-run film festival will offer you the chance to catch a midnight screening of the movie here.

This year, students from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at Nanyang Technological University present six films exploring the themes surrounding sexuality in their annual Perspectives Film Festival: Breakthroughs in Cinema.

Running from 8 to 11 November at the National Museum of Singapore, members of the public can purchase tickets to catch these films -- which mostly come with M18 and R21 ratings (sorry, young 'uns) -- from Sistic at $10, with an $8 student concession price.

Here's the rundown of the shows you can catch:

Zenne Dancer (2012)

"Zenne Dancer" is a film about gay honour killings in Turkey. (Photo courtesy of Perspectives Film Festival)

Directed by Turkish filmmakers Caner Alper and Mehmet Binay, who are themselves a couple, Zenne Dancer tells the story of three close friends -- Yildiz, who was born to a conservative Muslim family; Daniel, a German photographer, and Can, an exuberant male belly dancer -- all of whom gradually discover and deal with the reality of being homosexual in a contemporary Turkish society.

Yildiz's character is based on the life of 26-year-old Ahmet Yildiz, a Physics student and a personal friend of Alper's who was shot in the head by his father in 2008 because the latter "did not accept the victim to be in a gay relationship". Yildiz's death has widely been referred to as Turkey's first gay honour killing, and the two directors hope their film will "force Turkish society to debate hate crimes that target victims based on gender, religion, ethnicity or sexual identity".

Caner Alper and Mehmet Binay will also be in Singapore for post-screening discussions after both times their film will be showing. This film is rated R21 for its homosexual content.

Belle de Jour (1967)

"Belle de Jour" tells the story of Saverine, a married woman who cannot be intimate with her husband, and leads a double life as a prostitute. (Photo courtesy of Perspectives Film Festival)

One of his best known works, Spanish Surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel tells in Belle de Jour the story of Séverine, a married woman who is unable to bring herself to be physically intimate with her husband. In her frustration and curiosity, combined with the effects of a disturbed childhood, she goes to a brothel and eventually offers her services there as a prostitute. Séverine ends up leading a double life -- whore by day and faithful wife by night.

As with many of Buñuel's works, Belle de Jour was released at a time where such bold exploration into sexually deviance by a female character was unheard of -- these moves were usually led by males -- challenging once again the audiences of its time. This film is rated M18 for its mature content.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

"The Rocky Horror Picture Show" enjoys what is probably the longest-running release in film history. (Photo courtesy of Perspectives Film Festival)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is an American movie that holds the longest-running release in film history, remaining a midnight staple at cinemas around the world. Traditionally known for its late-night screenings when fans shout at the screen, the show fascinated audiences for its quirky mash-up of the horror, science fiction and musical genres.

Based on the British rock musical stage play The Rocky Horror Show, the plot of the Picture Show, directed by Jim Sharman, centres on a soon-to-be-hitched couple who find themselves lost and stranded with a flat tyre one evening. Walking into a nearby castle to seek assistance, they find themselves in a world of transvestites, cannibalism, science fiction and dark cabaret. This film is rated M18 for its mature themes.

Fire (1996)

"Fire" tells the controversial story of two married women who find solace, and later romance, in each other after feeling neglected by their husbands. (Photo courtesy of Perspectives Film Festival)

The first film in the Indian movie industry to portray a lesbian relationship, Fire is about two married women who find solace in each other after being neglected by their husbands. Their shared experiences lead to a romantic and sexual liaison that both of them struggle to come to terms with, reflecting an undercurrent of social commentary on how obsolete traditions hinder a nation from modernity.

It strongly challenged the deep-seated cultural norms for people at the time, inciting riots and attacks by Hindu fundamentalists at some of the theatres it screened at, and its run had to be paused for some time until campaigning efforts by free speech activists and several film personalities allowed them to continue. This film is rated R21 for its homosexual content.

The Housemaid (1960)

The Housemaid is about a woman who through her feminine wiles seduces her employer and takes over his entire household. (Photo courtesy of Perspectives Film Festival)

Regarded as yet another shocker for its time, The Housemaid is a Korean horror-thriller set in the 1960s about a piano teacher who hires a housemaid to help his pregnant wife with chores. She ends up seducing him, though, and in the process takes control of and terrorizes his entire family.

Noted as what could be the finest film in Korean cinema's "Golden Age", the film represents a stylistic break from realism that yet presents characters the audience could relate to. Its director Kim Ki-young, in positing them in this manner, aims to remind audiences that the story told in The Housemaid could very well unfold in their lives as well. This film is rated PG for intimate scenes.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)

"4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" is about two girls who seek an illegal abortion in Communist Romania. (Photo courtesy of Perspectives Film Festival)

Winner of the prestigious Palm D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is about Otilia and Gabriela, two Romanian students who try to procure an illegal abortion -- in the final years of Communist Romania.

Director Cristian Mungiu uses Romanian New Wave techniques to convey a stark, bitter picture of living in a repressive regime, portraying how even the simplest of tasks can become particularly difficult to accomplish in a communist country. This film is rated M18 for nudity and disturbing content.

Perspectives Film Festival: Breakthroughs in Cinema is on from 8 to 11 November 2012. Tickets are now on sale for the above shows at Sistic. Click here for more information.