Interview with Filmmaker Ken Kwek (#LOOKATME)

#LOOKATME, 108min., Singapore, Drama/Family
Directed by Ken Kwek
When teenagers Sean and Ricky are invited to attend church with Sean’s girlfriend, they are treated to an Evangelical rock concert capped by a searing anti-LGBTQ sermon. Sean, a Youtuber, soon gets into trouble for dropping an outrageous video lampooning the megachurch’s pastor. He is widely condemned and prosecuted for flouting Singapore’s strict laws on public expression. As Sean descends into near-madness in prison, his gay twin brother, Ricky, gains prominence as a LGBTQ activist. Both find themselves at the heart of a culture war that spills out from social media into the real world.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?
In 2015, a Youtuber in Singapore was prosecuted and jailed for posting an online video that was deemed to have hurt the feelings of a religious group. I found the case both fascinating and disturbing. I thought it’d be interesting to see a fictional character wade into this type of situation in a movie – but for a very real and meaningful cause that resonates in real life, such as the fight for LGBTQ rights and visibility in Singapore.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
Seven years.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
Rollercoaster ride!

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
In hindsight, my own fears and doubts, the persistent sense that I would not be able to get the film done.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
It’s very gratifying for any filmmaker to see an audience engage with their movie – not necessarily admiring but involved, driven to opinion, emotionally invested. I was moved by their responses.

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I never grew up thinking that I wanted to be a film director. I just loved watching movies, I’d cut class to sneak into the neighbourhood cinema. After college I did earn my stripes as a camera assistant on a few film sets, but then found myself drawn to newspaper journalism. I did that for a couple of years before meeting Glen Goei, a Singaporean theatre director and film director, whose friendship led me properly into the creative space, and to film, in 2008.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Oh, that’s a hard one, I’ve seen so many movies, and I’ve seen them over and over. I’d have to say though, probably Dog Day Afternoon.

8. What is your favorite meal?
Braised duck on rice. A Singaporean classic.

9. What is next for you? A new film?
I’ve just finished a new short film – my first stab an animation!


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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