Made with love and warmth, this documentary with re-enactments tells us more about Singapore’s education history through the legacy of a Catholic missionary Chinese girls’ school.
Dir. Eva Tang
2019 | Singapore | Documentary | 70 mins | Mandarin, Cantonese & English
PG (passed clean)
Plot: This work documents a segment of Singapore’s education history––the survival of the nation’s first Catholic missionary Chinese girls’ school through adversities during her formative years.
Source: SNGS Alumnae Association
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream
(Reviewed at LumiNation ’19 at The Arts House)
Like the educators in this documentary who show their love and warmth to generations of students under their charge, the film exhibits a similarly warm and fuzzy feeling as if you are in the company of a gentle breeze, one that would ease you back into the past.
To postwar Singapore in fact, as director Eva Tang captures, through crisply-shot black-and-white dramatised re-enactments, life in a Catholic missionary Chinese girls’ school. She also effortlessly alternates with a traditional documentary approach featuring interviews of alumni and teachers who had been part of their school’s illustrious history.
The result is a moving film, filled with emotions related to personal reminiscences. ‘Moving’ here also has another meaning, and as you might already imagined from the title, the school in question—St. Nicholas Girls’ School—underwent a major relocation. Its relocation, however, was only one of numerous challenges its stakeholders faced.
As much as From Victoria Street to Ang Mo Kio is a celebration of a school’s legacy (a commissioned work for its 85th anniversary), it also becomes a conduit in which certain aspects of Singapore’s education history are explored—for instance, the communist activism in Chinese schools in the 1950s, as well as the major education reforms in the late 1970s, including the strategic shift to English as the main medium of instruction and learning.
Personally, as an educator about to complete my postgraduate degree in the field, I find Tang’s work particularly inspiring and engaging, and certainly a required viewing.