Including the first local Mandarin film about ‘70s Singapore

If you’re feeling a little aimless in this limbo between film festivals (the next big one is after all happening only at the end of November), the upcoming weekend should be a welcome surprise. Returning for its fifth edition, the film festival celebrating old Asian films Fade In/Fade Out is back this Nov 17-18.

Down to just a weekend this year, the film series organised by the National Library Board and the Asian Film Archive will be resurrecting old classic Mandarin and dialect films. While the 2017 edition cast the spotlight on Asian folk tales reimagined in films from the ‘60s to 2000s, this year’s nippy four-film line-up is less fantastical, focusing instead on the rawness of human relationships.

Catch the late Taiwanese singer Feng Fei-fei, in her silver-screen debut in Love in Chilly Spring (1979), a wartime melodrama set in the mountains of Yilan during the final days of WWII. It’s a simple love story gone sour, when Feng’s Xiulan has her lover drafted to war and sent away by a scheming, jealous Japanese lieutenant.


Two Sides of the Bridge. Photo credit: Wong Han Min

On to a homegrown production—Two Sides of the Bridge (1976) is the final of three local feature films produced by the now-defunct Chong Gay Organisation, and believed to be one of the first local Mandarin films produced for Singaporean audiences. The first and only Chong Gay film made by an all-local (at the time, Singaporeans and Malaysians) cast and crew, the film chronicles the relationship of a young couple facing a rapidly transforming and materialistic Singapore. It bombed at the box office in the ‘70s, but went on to become a cult favourite for its realist portrayal of urban Singapore. The screening is also of the only surviving version of the film, so definitely don’t miss this.


Vengeance of the Phoenix Sisters. Photo credit:Taiwan Cinema Toolkit

For a little more action, there’s Vengeance of the Phoenix Sisters (1968), a Hokkien film about three badass sisters, orphaned and separated after a gang of bandits murder their parents, who reunite in adulthood to seek their bloody vengeance. And closing the mini festival is The Young Ones (1973), a love triangle of multiple layers involving a college student, a girl he falls in love with who dies from a serious heart defect, and a pop singer he meets after who looks exactly like his late lover.


Fade in/Fade Out 2018 takes place Nov 17-18 at #02-A2, Festive Arts Theatre, Tampines Regional Library. Admission is free.