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Queer Malaysian film storms box office

Thu 31 Mar 2011 In: International News View at NDHA

The first-ever Malaysian-made film with gay and trans themes to be shown in the conservative Muslim country has proved a box office success, pulling a profit in just five days on the big screen. Dalam Bottle (In a Bottle) is about a post-op transsexual woman who comes to realise that she may have been better off as a man. It has already earned more than one million ringgit ($430,000) at Malaysian cinemas, easily recouping its production and marketing costs of 970,000 ringgit. The Guardian reports that prior to filming, writer and producer Raja Azmi Raja Sulaiman had to submit details to the country's strict censorship board, which nevertheless gave its approval following a couple of amendments. Malaysian films are not allowed to show support for gay lifestyles: the country still maintains a law against sodomy, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, though prosecutions are rare. In Dalam Botol the actors hug but do not kiss. Sulaiman has told the Associated Press she believes the box office results "prove that Malaysian audiences can handle such movies, that they're more open and not so conservative anymore.” The Guardian says the box office success seems to be based on the controversy over showing the movie and many in the Malaysian glbt community are not happy with the film. "Many of us Malaysian gays, lesbians and transgenders have absolutely no regrets being who we are," rights activist Pang Khee Teik, co-founder of the Malaysian sexual rights awareness group Sexuality Independence has told The Guardian. Sulaiman is now planning a fantasy drama about a young man whose closest friend is a fish in a bowl that suddenly transforms into a man.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 31st March 2011 - 10:53am

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