20 years after the film was banned, Bugis Street, a film about Singapore’s transexuals first released and banned in the 1990s, received a celebratory return at this year’s Singapore International Film Festival under the new title, “Bugis Street Redux”.
The film caused major controversy in the 90s when it was released, with local actors casted in the film receiving scorn and derision in public.
One of the main actors, Ernest Seah, now 50 years old, says he felt vindicated when the film received much deserved applause at the end of the sold-out screening at the film festival.
The film, directed by Taiwanese Yonfan and starring Vietnamese actress Hiep Thi Le, is about the transexuals that existed in Singapore in the 60s. Transexuals used to ply their services along Bugis Street at that time.
Festival director Zhang Wenjie said he chose to screen Bugis Street Redux because he wanted to celebrate how this made-in-Singapore film laid the groundwork for the resurgence of Singapore cinema back in the 90s.
According to a Media Development Authority Singapore (MDA) spokesperson, MDA was lifting the ban on the film as it could now be classified as permissible under today’s R21 rating.