Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Quoted: Sexy, yes. Sleazy? No way.

(Quoted in The New Paper. April 13, 2010)

Sexy, yes. Sleazy? No way
Movie's producer says photos are about how couple deals with cancer.
by Benson Ang

IT IS a movie with a serious message.

But at least one teenager who caught a glimpse of the movie’s publicity stills thought it was about sex.

If the stills from the upcoming Singapore-made Mandarin movie Ge Ai (Love Cuts) were meant to raise eyebrows, they certainly succeeded.

When shown the photos, Miss Candy Pang, 19, said: “If I didn’t know anything about the show, I’d immediately think it was an R21 movie, and not one about breast cancer.”

Indeed, the movie’s message is about early and regular checks against breast cancer, said the Health Promotion Board (HPB), which funded Love Cuts.
It is not known how much HPB paid.

The movie, now in production, is scheduled to be released in October, and stars Zoe Tay.

The stills, released to the press and published in Lianhe Wanbao, show the actors Christy Yow and Allan Wu posing naked on chairs, holding each other, and standing back to back.

Said Miss Pang, an administrative assistant: “When you see a man and a woman naked together, what else can happen?”

Love Cuts is about the trials and tribulations of a young woman who realises she has hereditary breast cancer.

The HPB spokesman told The New Paper: “The photographs are of the characters that Yow and Wu play in the movie, that of a couple who have decided to get married and are posing for photographs to mark their decision.

“This scene...develops the story of the couple.”

Too ‘deep’?

But graduate student Ho Chi Sam, 26, felt the message behind the nudity shown in the stills may be too “deep” or “profound” for the general public to understand.

Said Mr Ho: “They might take the nudity at face value, and automatically equate this to offence.

“This is because the pictures do not directly communicate the idea of the trials and tribulations of breast cancer.”

Mr Ho felt that a picture of a woman who has undergone a mastectomy might be more effective at highlighting the issue of body confidence and cancer.
Question is, would it be as effective?

Miss Pang said the last movie she watched about breast cancer was the Japanese movie April Bride, a romantic drama about a young woman’s last days after being diagnosed.

Her perception from the Love Cuts stills was that the film may be presenting a “different” side of the illness from April Bride.

The use of nudity could suggest that sex is being used to sell Love Cuts, but she finds nothing wrong with the approach, she said.

“Sex attracts people’s attention. If you use normal pictures, people won’t bother about what the movie is about. You need something to make viewers ask questions and be interested.”

When The New Paper told her the idea behind the stills, she acknowledged that the idea was “not bad”.

The HPB spokesman added that the key message of the movie is “the importance of early and regular mammography in saving lives so that women will be encouraged to go for screening”.

Mr Lim Teck, 35, managing director of Clover Films, which produced the movie, explained that the photos “are consistent with the nature of the script”.

In the movie, Yow’s character is 27, and has already been diagnosed to have cancer. But she decides to proceed with the nude photo shoot anyway.

It was also after her doctor had recommended the removal of one of her breasts.

Mr Lim, who is also the movie’s executive producer, said: “The decision to take the nude wedding pictures was made before Yow’s character knew that she had cancer.

“After they (the characters) found out, following through with that decision (is) meant to be a show of solidarity and love between the couple, and a commitment to embrace life as before.

Big questions

“The character is thinking: ‘I’ve such a beautiful body, such a beautiful career, such a beautiful boyfriend. And now, I have breast cancer, so how am I supposed to deal with it, and will my boyfriend love me for who I am?’”

He added that the scene’s objective is to give some depth to the characters.

“The pictures show her resilience and bravery in fighting breast cancer.

“They are not meant in any way to be sleazy. In fact, I actually take offence that people (might) think the photographs are sleazy.”

He said while the film’s rating is still unknown, he is aiming for a PG rating.

Mr Jansen Siak of public relations agency Word Of Mouth Communications said: “I feel they (the photos) are nicely and tastefully shot, but yes, the pictures will certainly raise a few eyebrows.

“It does reflect the trend of real-life couples who opt for such unconventional wedding pictures to capture their bond and commitment. There is nothing wrong with it as it’s really a couple’s personal choice.”

Student Cheryl Ong, 21, disagreed.

“I think the distributors should realise that the perceived message and intended message communicated to the public can be very different.
“Nudity, even partial nudity, is not widely accepted in Singapore.”

A Golden Village spokesman told The New Paper that it seldom focuses on sex in marketing campaigns for movies, unless the movie is raunchy.

But he added that it was too early to comment on the film because he had yet to see the official movie poster.

It is not known if the stills will be used in promotional material or posters.

-Additional reporting by Lim Wei Li and Vinna Yip. The New Paper

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