Educators' Workshops: Film Literacy and Documentary Reality in Contemporary Cinema
Our intern, Davina, blogs about the May-June seasons of the Educators' Workshops.
On 31 May and 1 June, the latest season of the educators' workshops took place at Filmgarde Cineplex with the kind support of Iluma. This was our first time holding the workshops in a commercial screening venue, and some of the participants expressed their delight at being able to view the short films on a big screen.
Despite having run for many seasons now, the Film Literacy course remains a popular choice for educators seeking an introduction to using film in the classroom. After the session, participants adjourned to Manhattan Fish Market to formulate their lesson plans over finger food. At the end of the day, we were glad the educators found the workshop useful:
"Practical suggestions on how educations can employ/incorporate films into lessons. Liked the short films that were screened as they were apt and accessible." - Bernice Teo, Victoria Junior College
"[I liked the] sharing session to come up with ideas for lessons, use of local short films suitable for classroom [and] lesson plans that go well with the videos shown." - Adeline Tan, St. Joseph's Institution
The next day, we premiered a new workshop conducted by filmmaker/artist Liao Jiekai. Entitled Documentary Reality in Contemporary Cinema, the session explored the blurring of lines between reality and fiction in film. Participants were brought into the personal cinema experiences of directors Hakim Belabbes, Pedro Costa, Hou Hsiao Hsien and Yasujiro Ozu through excerpts from their films, as well as Liao Jiekai's own "Red Dragonflies".
We were encouraged to see the educators engaging in lively discussions, and especially thrilled by those who came up to us with ideas for further collaboration and suggestions for youth cinema projects. In light of our upcoming youth initiated cinema chain project, Cine Odeon 2010, this is most exciting and very heartening!
Charity Screening of 'Moon Over Malaya' (1957)
Our intern, Davina, blogs about the Charity Screening of 'Moon Over Malaya' on 13 April 2010, our first-ever gala fund-raising event.
After months of planning, weeks of toil, and days of frenzy, the Archive's Charity Screening was finally and successfully held on 13th April at The Cathay. Part fundraiser, part fifth-anniversary bash, the night was ultimately a perfect way to celebrate the Archive's work with our friends and the public.
The audience at the screening was a cross-section of society, made up of all the people we have reached out to over the years. These included partners, corporate and individual donors, filmmakers, volunteers, ex-participants of our programmes, and those who simply wished to show their support for our work. The Archive was especially privileged to receive President S.R. Nathan as our guest-of-honour for the evening. Regardless of whom they were, everyone there had taken time out of their schedules to spend it with us, reliving the halcyon days of Singapore cinema.
Pioneering independent filmmaker, Rajendra Gour
The screen offering was Moon Over Malaya (AKA 'The Whispering Palms', 1957), a Singapore-Hong Kong collaboration produced by the Kong Ngee Company—in its heyday, part of the triumvirate of Singapore’s film production houses. Its treatment of the issues of education and grassroots philanthropy are in keeping with the mission of the Archive, and reinforced the fundraising element of the evening. All this aside, the movie proved to be as potent and as much of a hit as over 50 years ago, earning a very warm reception and eliciting both tears and laughter from the audience members.
It must be admitted that prior to the screening, I'd been warned that I might not enjoy the film, and that it would probably be more suited to my parents’ tastes instead. And sure enough, there were times when, during scenes meant to depict internal conflict and emotional turmoil, I found myself giggling very inappropriately at what was onscreen instead. Maybe it’s the result of prolonged exposure to the slick editing and sophisticated dialogue that most young filmgoers now grow up with. But rather than the absence of these becoming a turn-off, it made Moon Over Malaya unexpectedly and irresistibly charming. The movie turned out to be a refreshing experience because in-between today’s tongue-in-cheek commercial blockbusters and subtle, meditative art house cinema, finding a film as straightforward and heartfelt as Moon Over Malaya can be surprisingly difficult.
After the screening, the President and select guests were treated to a personal tour of the Archive’s exhibition on Singapore cinema history by our very own curator, Karen. Gradually, other audience members also came out to mingle, discuss the movie, and take in the exhibition. Titled Singapore Cinema: Local Films – Global Links, it was a concise but interesting introduction to a lesser known aspect of Singapore’s cinematic past. There was also a contribution from the National Archives of Singapore, who designed an exhibition to give an idea of the era in local history when Moon Over Malaya was made. The entire exhibition will be touring community centres across Singapore, so be sure to look out for it!
His Excellency, President Nathan touring the exhibition Singapore Cinema: Local Films – Global Links
To mark our first gala event and further acquaint the specially invited guests with what we do, the Archive went all out and hosted a dinner with the President, members of our Board of Directors, and leading figures in Singapore business and media circles.
The night was rounded off with the presentation of tokens of appreciation to all dinner guests. Nothing less than Singapore Shorts Vols. 1 & 2 would do!
His Excellency, President Nathan and Mrs. Nathan presented with token of appreciation by Tan Bee Thiam as Mr. Wong Ngit Liong looks on.
From L-R: Mr. Richard Eu, Mr. Michael Ma, Mr. Mike Wiluan
“Films are cultural artifacts that are representative of the times during which they were made. The archival of films would help preserve a part of our cultural heritage, keeping it alive so that it could be shared with future generations. The film “Moon Over Malaya”, shot in Singapore and Malaya in the 1950s and recently restored by the Asian Film Archive, provides viewers here with a glimpse of the architecture and landscape as well as the way of life of the people of Singapore in the yesteryears.” – His Excellency President S.R Nathan
"I thoroughly enjoyed the Asian Film Archive's screening of Moon Over Malaya. I was immediately transported to a Singapore that I did not know about before, both from a historical and sociological perspective. Watching the film made me realise how important it is for us to preserve the cultural heritage of our films as only films can truly encapture and indeed allow us to relive a period of our history and to document our lives for future generations." — Glen Goei, film and theatre director
"It's like rediscovering a piece of family history I'd thought was lost. I'm humbled by the restoration effort put in and proud at the same time. Thank you very much." — Nat Ho, great-grandson of the founder of Kong Ngee Company
"The Charity Screening was a well-organised, very meaningful and enjoyable event. The Asian Film Archive has done a great job not just in restoring & preserving the film "Moon Over Malaya" but ensuring that there is a wider critical appreciation of this art form." — Koh Boon Long, Principal Consultant, Educare International
The Charity Screening turned out to be more than even what we envisioned. It brought together distinguished guests and average folk, young cinephiles and nostalgic old-timers, all appreciating and enjoying Singapore’s cinematic heritage. In fact, the response from the public was so overwhelming that we may have to look into organising a second screening of the film! Our greatest thanks goes out to everyone who helped with this event—volunteers, sponsors, partners, people who provided all kinds of assistance in their own time,—everyone who graced the event with their presence, and all who are keeping an eye out for the Archive. We’ll be seeing you again very shortly!
Asian Film Archive in March 2010
Our new intern Davina blogs about what we have been up to in the month of March...
March was a busy time for the Archive, with a whirlwind of events going on.On 5th March, Short Films From Asia was one of the opening programmes for the National University of Singapore’s Arts Festival 2010. The audience enjoyed the five short films by Lav Diaz, Hong Sang-Soo, Tan Chui Mui, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Christopher Chong. Read what one of our guests, NTU Shaw Foundation Professor Patricia R. Zimmermann, had to say about the screening on her blog.
On 6th March, the Save Our Film campaign had its finale activity, the Roving Showcase, along various points of bustling Orchard Road. The campaign team showed to curious passersby clips featuring interviews with members of local film community, and film buffs from the public reminiscing on their film memories. Trivia quizzes on local film history were also conducted, and 22 copies of Singapore Shorts Vol.2 were given away as prizes to delighted passersby who answered our questions correctly.
The Archive provided support for Media Development Authority’s Media Fiesta 2010 – The Spectaculars! Taking place on 5th and 6th March, the screenings brought together an enthusiastic crowd to watch a series of fondly remembered Cathay classic films, including Sumpah Pontianak, Our Sister Hedy (四千金) and They Call Her… Cleopatra Wong.
Also part of the NUS Arts Festival 2010, Spotlight On NUS Alumni Filmmakers on 13th March consists of screenings of Sherman Ong’s Flooding In The Time Of Drought and Looi Wan Ping’s White Days. Both directors are graduates of NUS, and they were in attendance to address questions in a Q&A session together with Chris Yeo, a cast member of White Days. Facilitated by NUS student Daniel Koh, the segment produced a lively discussion on the filmmakers’ motivations. A varied group, the audience consisted of NUS students and faculty, cast members, and regulars of AFA screenings, one of whom was keen to know about the influence of Taiwanese New Wave directors on the two filmmakers.
March saw the year’s first season of Educators’ Workshops. This season, the workshops are held at The Arts House’s Screening Room. On the 15th, Bee Thiam delivered a workshop on Film Literacy to great response. The next day, we held a screening of Mukhsin by Yasmin Ahmad, followed by a discussion and workshop led by acclaimed Malaysian writer/documentarian Amir Muhammad. Amir later also attended a dialogue session at Raffles Institution with RI students after the screening of his film, The Big Durian.
Coming up next for the Archive is the fundraising Charity Screening on 13th April as the highlight of our 5th anniversary celebrations. Moon Over Malaya (1957), starring Patrick Tse, Nam Hung and Patsy Kar Ling, will be presented in Singapore for the first time in decades. Be there to experience a slice of Singapore’s golden age of cinema, and to celebrate the work of the Asian Film Archive!
Professor Zimmermann blogs about our 5th Anniversary and Short Films From Asia programme.
'Save Our Film' campaign
In celebration of the Asian Film Archive’s 5th anniversary, a group of passionate final-year students from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University have launched the ‘Save Our Film’ campaign. This campaign aims to raise awareness amongst youths aged 15 - 35 of Singapore's rich local film heritage and the importance of ensuring it is kept alive for our future.
Launched on 1st February, the 'Save Our Film' campaign has conducted a series of nationwide guerilla publicity efforts, beginning with the campaign Mock DVDs and Posters on display at supporting stores and cinemas. They promote five early Singapore titles with a twist -- these films have been lost and are thus unavailable. More information about them can be found on the Singapore Lost Film Wiki, along with archived images of never-before-seen scans from the film memorabilia collection of Mr Wong Han Min. The public is warmly invited to contribute and grow the wiki as well.
For the past 3 weekends, these students have conducted impromptu Video Projections that the following locations:
06/02/2010 @ Bugis Junction
12/02/2010 @ The Cathay
20/02/2010 @ Cathay Cineleisure Orchard
You can watch videos from each projection and the slick kinetic typography videos that were shown at the projections at their YouTube group page. They also gave away 'Singapore Shorts Vol. 2 (SSV2)' DVDs to passersby who participated in their on-site local film trivia quiz.
Don't miss their final campaign highlight, a Roving Showcase featuring exclusive Call for Memories recordings of members of our local film community, film memorabilia collectors, WWII survivors and others sharing their own fondest local film memory. This showcase will happen on the 6th of March, Saturday afternoon, all along Scotts and Orchard Roads.
Follow them as they trundle down Singapore's busiest shopping district with a nostalgic 11-inch television from the nineties and screen these interview clips to all and sundry! The local film trivia quiz will be happening on-site as well and I hear that they are giving away one DVD every 15 minutes!
If you are unable to make it, do log on to their website at http://asianfilmarchive.org/5th/ to find out more about the campaign and what you can do to help.
Launch of Singapore Shorts Vol. 2 DVD (8 Nov 08)The Singapore Shorts Vol. 2 DVD is curated on the theme of family with a selection of 9 acclaimed short films by local filmmakers. The launch of the DVD took place on 8 November 2008 at Kinokuniya (Ngee Ann City). We appreciate the kind support given by Kinokuniya and the filmmakers who came down to the launch to grace the occasion with a special Q&A session with the public. Not to mention, our dear friends who took the time to come down to offer congratulatory greetings and bring home a couple of DVDs fresh from the shelf!
World Audiovisual Heritage Day
In commemoration of the World Audiovisual Heritage Day, the Asian Film Archive is making an open call to the public in search of some significant local films whose existence are currently unknown.