Movie launched to mark St Nicholas Girls' School's 85th anniversary

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung at the film premiere of From Victoria Street To Ang Mo Kio, a documentary-drama that pays tribute to the contributions of former educators from CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School, on April 11, 2019. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - A documentary-drama that pays tribute to the contributions of former educators from CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School premiered on Thursday evening (April 11) 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 relationship with their principal and teachers.

One recurrent theme is the rivalry between Chinese and English 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 in 2018. 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.

Tang, 48, is also the director of The Songs We Sang, a 2015 Singaporean documentary on Xinyao, a contemporary Mandarin vocal genre.

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. Including research, preparation and video editing, the whole production 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 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: "When I watched the film, two things struck me - the essence of St Nicholas which has withstood the passing of time... and the inner strength of the pioneering educators.

"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. "

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