STOP10 Sep 2017: 'The Veiled Willow 柳影袈裟' by Eva Tang




The sixth edition of Silver Arts, Singapore’s only festival dedicated to the well-being of seniors through the arts is back spanning four weekends from 1 to 24 September. Organised by the National Arts Council (NAC), Silver Arts 2017 will involve more than 80 artists and art groups presenting 38 programmes across 20 venues, targeting 42,000 attendees.


Silver Films, its film programme, features four feature films from Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan and five Singapore short films. This is a heartwarming and touching selection of films on living life to the fullest and holding our loved ones close to us. Apart from the two commissioned short films by award-winning commercial film director, Yee Chang Kang and freelance director, Sufyan Sam’an, the local selection also includes Eva Tang’s latest short film The Veiled Willow 柳影袈裟, which we highly recommend to watch.

Set in the 1960s, a period of economic transition in Singapore, The Veiled Willow is a ‘somewhat-love’ story about two workers in a household, one a chef and the other a maid-servant. Chef Tam is leaving the household to work in a restaurant. Only the loyal maid-servant. Sister Lau is left to take care of Second Grandma, who is faced with loneliness after her family has moved out. It is her wish for Sister Lau to marry Tam. Unfortunately, theirs is a generation who carry the burden of unspoken heartaches to themselves. Lovers of the popular Cantonese dish, the yam ring, will also be delighted to learn abit about a little backstory behind the dish.

Eva Tang revealed in her chat with SINdie that apart from telling a story, the film is also trying to reacquaint Singaporeans with the sound of fluent Cantonese spoken in Singapore.

"One of the many challenges in making a Cantonese short film in Singapore is that it is very hard to find Singaporeans who can speak fluent Cantonese nowadays. More than 95% of the dialogues in the short film was written in Cantonese. I was thinking to myself when was the last time we could hear so much dialect on the big screen from a local production, and not get banned? I feel this “soundscape” has been lost since the late 70s.Through making 《柳影袈裟》(The Veiled Willow), I am also discovering the beauty of the Cantonese language and culture. The title of the short film is the name of a traditional Cantonese vegetarian dish which has disappeared in Singapore. Even the name of the cuisine is poetic. It is inserting green vegetable into bamboo fungus. The making of traditional Cantonese cuisine takes a lot of effort which is a craft we are losing now. While preparing for this short film, I did some research on our Cantonese food in the 60s, and visited the traditional Cantonese restaurants that still remain. In the 60s, Singapore had “4 heavenly Cantonese chefs” and they were very innovative at that time. “佛钵飘香” (Yam Basket) was one of the dishes created locally and there was a romance behind this dish which is mentioned in the short film."


The film was part of an omnibus of five short films titled 667, produced by Royston Tan for the inaugural Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre Cultural Extravaganza in May. 667 challenged each filmmaker to go in search of their own cultural roots, and produce a short film on their journey of self-discovery. Read our review of The Veiled Willow and the other four short films by Colin Low here.

Eva Tang is the co-director of two popular documentaries Old Places (2010) and Old Romances (2012) that reminisce the disappearing memories in Singapore. The Songs We Sang (2015) is her debut feature documentary, which set a new box-office record for independent documentaries in Singapore.

Films Selection (Total running time; 90 mins)

Happy To See You Too 死了,走了,不了 (Commissioned for Silver Arts 2017)
By Yee Chang Kang
50 years is a long time. Two long-lost friends become re-acquainted after a chance encounter at the neighbourhood clinic. All told in a light-hearted manner, we hear snippets of their lives and catch a glimpse of their feisty characters—of how they were all young once.

Rayqal (Commissioned for Silver Arts 2017)
By Sufyan Sam’an
Rayqal is determined to make his musical dreams come true. However, his bad temper leaves him without a band to play with for a highly-anticipated competition. In a stroke of luck, he discovers his grandfather was once the frontman of a band.

After Taste 回味
By Rebecca Ng
None of Dennis' relatives realise that the porridge he cooks is taught to him by Ah Ping, a  porridge seller whom the family patronised loyally till the shop closed. As Dennis observes them bustling about during tomb-sweeping, he recalls the connection to his Ah-Ma through porridge-making.

A Day’s Reunion 圆
By Png Zhen Yu
Having gotten off work early, Yi-De, a blue-collared worker, decides to go back home to visit his family. A home where he has not been back for a while.

The Veiled Willow 柳影袈裟
By Eva Tang
Chef Tam is leaving the household to work in a restaurant. Only the loyal maid-servant Sister Lau is left to take care of Second Grandma, who is faced with loneliness after her family has moved out. It is her wish for Sister Lau to marry Tam. Unfortunately, theirs is a generation who carry the burden of unspoken heartaches to themselves.


Showtimes and Ticketing for Silver Films

Fri, 1 Sep 7.30pm GV Suntec
Sat, 9 Sep 2.00pm GV Suntec
Tue, 12 Sep 2.30pm GV Tampines
Sat, 16 Sep 2.00pm GV Plaza
Sat 23 Sept 2.00pm GV Vivo
Sun 24 Sept 2:00pm GV Bishan

Tickets available at Golden Village via gv.com.sg or GV ticketing counters from 17 Aug onwards
Public: $6 per ticket; Senior Citizen Concession (aged 55 and above): $3 per ticket, available only via GV ticketing counters.
Prices stated exclude GV ticket booking charges (if applicable).

Organised by the National Arts Council since 2012, Silver Arts is an annual festival that collaborates with artists, arts organisations and community partners to integrate the arts into the lifestyles of seniors. From performances to workshops, seniors can showcase their creative talents through co-created content or learn a new skill, enhancing their overall well-being. The festival offers opportunities for seniors to share their stories that shape our collective memories, and forge stronger inter-generational understanding. For more information on Silver Arts, visit Silverarts.nac.gov.sg.

Written by Jeremy Sing


For the full list of September 2017's 10 films under STOP10, click here.

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