Threshold is a 2009 short film by Loo Zihan.
In a dingy motel room that is as hot and clammy as the jungle painted on its walls, a sexual threesome has been arranged to take place. Except that the two men lying in wait are officers from the Central Narcotics Bureau, ready to apprehend their suspect, who is going to show up with crystal meth at any moment.
Staff Sergeant Boon is garrulous and relaxed; for him, this is a job just like any other. Inspector Anton, on the other hand, is preoccupied and tense, and is increasingly restless. As the wait for the suspect lengthens, it is apparent Anton has something infinitely more personal at stake.
In what appears to be a routine crackdown operation, which walls will come tumbling down, and what thresholds will be crossed? In the film’s tropical swelter, how does one ascertain that everything one sees is not a mirage from a fragmenting mind?
Director's Statement (2009)
It was April Fool’s Day in 2006, when the incident happened. 27-year-old medical student Adrian Yeo See Seng was arrested for the possession of drugs in a hotel along Bencoolen Street in Singapore. The incident came out in the papers a few months later and a mix of emotions ran through me as I read about the details of how he was entrapped by two Central Narcotics Bureau Officers.
I was indignant, angry, worried and frustrated – most importantly I was wondering, what would I have done if I were in his shoes? Being human, would I have been able to resist the promise of sex by a charming stranger?
Adrian and I graduated from the same secondary school and junior college, and like him, I am gay. I never knew him personally, but I almost knew how it felt like to be him, living out your teenage years in a repressive all boys’ school.
At the same time, I sympathised with the two officers who were tasked to trap him. Did they have any moral dilemma about the task at hand? Did their colleagues crack homophobic jokes about them? Who were these faceless, nameless people? Under this surge of confused emotions, I penned my first draft of the script.
That was almost 2 years ago, fast forward to the present. Earlier this year, while casually talking about this incident to some friends, someone mentioned that Adrian has passed away - he died as a result of health complications. The sudden news of his demise came as a shock to me, and I felt it was time I did something with this script I had written, before the memory of this incident gets erased over time.
This fictionalised treatment of the incident does not serve to be a factual account of the event, but rather a means for us to question ourselves – a mirror for self-reflection. Ultimately I am questioning what choices would a person make in a situation like this, in my nation that supposedly values "society before self".
Director's Statement (2019)
'Threshold' was an attempt at adhering to a narrative film structure. It was my graduation thesis from my BFA in Digital Filmmaking at NTU School of Art, Design and Media in 2009.
It was made with the assistance of a lot of dedicated individuals. Special thanks goes out to Teck Siang the Director of Photography, Annette Heitmann the Art Director and composer Benjamin Lim Yi.
Ten years since this film was made, there are some aspects of the film that might seem quaint (the cell phones) and other aspects that still seem ever more pertinent. Drug-use has continued to proliferate within the gay community, fuelled by the promise of a lowering of inhibitions within a community that continues to be judged as socially illegitimate.
As long as we refuse to represent and acknowledge queer presence under illiberal conditions, the community will remain unable to move forward with rehabilitation or open conversation about these issues without fear of persecution. It is my hope that 'Threshold' will be able to serve as a node that allows for introspection and conversation.
What happens to bodies that continue to be surveilled under an illiberal state? What do these bodies do? How do they matter? In what ways do they begin to distend and disintegrate?
Anton - Justin Kan
Boon - Raymond Yong
Terry - Loo Zihan
Omega (Voice) - Lim Yu-beng
Producer, Director, Screenwriter, Editor - Loo Zihan
Director of Photography - Lim Teck Siang
Production Designer - Annette Heitmann
Production Design Advisor - Daniel Lim
Production Manager - Elgin Ho Tat Chuen
1st Assistant Director - Koo Chia Meng
2nd Assistant Director - Lee Ke Xin
Director of Photography (16mm sequence) - Tan Jit Quan
Assistant Director (16mm sequence) - Nicole Woodford Midori
Music Composer, Recording Engineer - Benjamin Lim Yi
String Quartet - Oxley String Quartet
Audio Post-Production - Yellowbox2 (Matthew Koh and Lim Ting Li)
- Threshold on Vimeo:.