CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' launches film to mark 85th anniversary

(From left) Student actresses Wang Ziyi and Hayley Foong; Lianhe Zaobao senior correspondent and moderator Chow Yian Ping; director Eva Tang; former principal Tan Wai Lan; and student actress Jerica Wong talking about the film during a panel discussio
(From left) Student actresses Wang Ziyi and Hayley Foong; Lianhe Zaobao senior correspondent and moderator Chow Yian Ping; director Eva Tang; former principal Tan Wai Lan; and student actress Jerica Wong talking about the film during a panel discussion at the premiere yesterday at the Capitol Theatre.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

A documentary-drama that pays tribute to the contributions of former educators from CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School premiered yesterday at the Capitol Theatre.

Set in the 1950s, the 70-minute film From Victoria Street To Ang Mo Kio was directed and produced by former St Nicholas girl Eva Tang.

The storyline revolves around two students and their relationships with their principal and teachers.

One recurrent theme is the rivalry between Chinese-and English-medium schools, with the latter seen as superior.

The film is also interspersed with documentary-style interview snippets with past and current students and staff.

It was commissioned by the school's alumnae association to commemorate the school's 85th anniversary last year.

The school declined to reveal how much the production cost and who paid for it.

 

As part of the Singapore Chinese Film Festival, the film will be screened at Golden Village Suntec on April 28. Tickets have been sold out.

Ms Tang, 48, also directed The Songs We Sang, a 2015 Singaporean documentary on xinyao, a contemporary Mandarin vocal genre.

Of From Victoria Street To Ang Mo Kio, she said: "I didn't want this to look like a corporate video promoting the school's achievements. Instead, I approached this project thinking, 'What are some lesser known stories and how can I portray that?' "

A teacher and 11 students from the school were part of the main cast of the film.

Filming took place in December last year. The whole production, including research, preparation and video editing, took about a year.

Secondary 4 student Jerica Wong played a political activist who had infiltrated the school to convince her classmates to move to China and pursue education there, highlighting communist undercurrents in the 1950s.

Said the 16-year-old: "I didn't know St Nicholas Girls' School had anything to say about students' involvement in political activities in the past."

Added schoolmate Hayley Foong, also 16, whose character - a mischievous and inquisitive girl - is meant to show what school life was like in the old days: "I learnt a lot about the school's history that I didn't know before.

"In the old days, being in a Chinese-medium school was not the best choice as students weren't educated well in English, which was important. Now there is an emphasis on both languages, to help us be bilingual... We are very privileged."

Said CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School principal Fiona Tan: "In some ways, this movie has helped to bridge the passage of time and has brought the history of St Nicholas, the legacy of those who came before us, a little closer to our hearts.''

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2019, with the headline 'CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' launches film to mark 85th anniversary'. Print Edition | Subscribe