Malaysia's first gay movie to test public acceptance

Thu Nov 11, 2010 4:52am EST
 
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By Razak Ahmad

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters Life!) - Malaysia's first gay-themed film, which will open in cinemas in February, is set to raise eyebrows in this conservative, mainly Muslim Southeast Asian country, where homosexuality remains a taboo subject.

The Malay language "...Dalam Botol" ("... In a Bottle") tells the story of the relationship between Ruby, a transsexual Muslim man, and her wayward male lover Ghaus.

The movie offers no racy love scenes to survive scrutiny by the country's strict film censors, but will set a precedent in a nation where sex between males is a legal offence under the country's criminal laws, and where homosexuality is rarely discussed in public.

"This is the first movie in Malaysia about gays, and it's going to get attention because it's something different," said Wan Raja, who plays Ghaus, after a preview screening of the movie in the capital city.

Malaysia only allows films to feature homosexuality if the characters repent or are killed off, and those characters are usually minor. This is the first movie with an entire gay theme.

Producer Raja Azmi Raja Sulaiman said the movie was based on the life of a friend and that her intention was to offer a glimpse into the life of a transsexual.

She submitted her script not only to the country's national Censorship Board for approval, but also to Malaysia's official Islamic authority for advice.

"I told them the title of the film was 'Penis in A Bottle' and that it was a gay movie about a transsexual, and they said why are you doing this?" said Raja Azmi.   Continued...

 
<p>Producer of the Malay language film "... Dalam Botol" or "... In a Bottle", Raja Azmi Raja Sulaiman, speaks during an interview in Kuala Lumpur November 10, 2010. Malaysia's first gay-themed film, which will open in cinemas in February, is set to raise eyebrows in this conservative, mainly Muslim Southeast Asian country, where homosexuality remains a taboo subject. The original title "Penis in A Bottle" which refers to how a transsexual Muslim man keeps her removed male genitalia in a bottle, was rejected by Malaysia's official Islamic authority. Photo taken November 10, 2010. To match Reuters Life! Malaysia-Film/ REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad</p>