In making ‘We Are All Escapists’, filmmaker Joy Lee wanted to take a long hard look at the idea of moral superiority and flawed humanity. Thus, the decision to shine the spotlight on five female ex-offenders in this new Voices documentary series.
To judge these women merely by their time spent in prison is to simplify their essence to their mistakes.
As each episode showcases, here are five fully-fleshed people with real problems in their lives that led to them seeking an escape. It takes incredible perseverance and optimism to reclaim their lives and be at peace with the present.
Escaping Reality Doesn’t Mean Being Lost Forever
31-year old Deborah Emmanuel reveals how growing up in a loveless home left her afraid and perpetually adrift. After being imprisoned at the tender age of 19, she now expresses her passion through art.
Addiction is a disease as seen in this protagonist’s world. With alcoholic parents and drug-using siblings, this featured personality refuses to be another casualty.
Sharon is an ex-banker who survived a toxic relationship with an ex-boyfriend. She calls her arrest “divine intervention” and has since found new meaning with four-legged friends.
Forced to grow up quickly due to an absent father, Jessie released stress via bouts of hard-partying. She has since fought with her demons to pursue her life-long dream of being an artist.
This daydreamer used to self-harm from the young age of 14. She is now an addiction therapist who knows firsthand the baggage of drug and substance abuse.
Filmmaker Joy Lee Wants You To Remove Your Moral Blindfold
“Like many of my Singaporean friends, I was raised in a fairly conservative family with the adults constantly reminding me not to do anything they would be ashamed of. For a very long time, I had made their beliefs the benchmark by which I judged my morality,” explains director, Joy Lee.
“Many of my documentaries touch on the subject of mental health and the stigma around it. The more people I meet, the more I discover the negative consequences of self-righteousness. It reduces our willingness to compromise or empathise; it creates a wall between ‘us’ and ‘them’.”
“I saw ‘We Are All Escapists‘ as an opportunity to bridge the gap and to encourage the viewer to take off the moral blindfold. I hope the five episodes can remind the viewer to separate the act from the person to see, with a shift in perspective: we are all flawed human beings,” adds Joy.