“The original draft of my speech was composed of words like “integrity” and “breaking new boundaries” , said Mr Loo Zihan in his valedictorian speech at the Nanyang Technological University graduation ceremony on Thursday, “but a recent incident put a reality check on what I have to say.”
Mr Loo related how a poster for his film, Threshold, was deemed ‘inappropriate’ by the school’s authority to be displayed during [the] convocation ceremony. He was dismayed by this as the poster had earlier been displayed at the school for two weeks without any problems.
“My first thought was to make the changes to the poster as required – but subsequently, as I was practicing for this speech, I realized that I could not say the words I drafted originally with conviction and authority by subjecting my work to censorship which I did not understand. I felt a sense of responsibility to my fellow graduates, who have voted me in as Valedictorian to speak up on their behalf."
According to the Straits Times, "the poster for his film "Threshold" shows a shirtless man standing at a basin while hands from behind hold his left shoulder and waist. A mirror in front of him shows the reflection of another man."
Mr Loo withdrew the poster rather than subject it to any changes for it to be exhibited.
“As artists, we should not only strive to produce great art – but also bear responsibility for the art we produce. Otherwise, we betray ourselves, and our audiences,” he said.
The film was created as part of his thesis. You can read more about the film and the transcript of his speech here.
In 2008, another group of NTU students took to Speakers' Corner to protest media censorship in their school. (See video below). The students were upset because of NTU’s decision to censor the campus media coverage of opposition politician Dr Chee Soon Juan's visit to the university. (See reports by TOC here and here.)
The following is a trailer for Threshold: