Sitting on the wooden steps with my arms wrapped around my knees, waiting for the film to start, surrounded by fellow film buffs, and I was overcome with a sudden bout of giddy happiness.
The theme of the festival was ' I want to Remember', so the event was supposed to evoke a sense of nostalgia and give people the chance to reminisce about the good ol' times. The older generation was probably transported to the Singapore of the1960s-1980s, where outdoor screenings were a weekly affair, and entire families would gather round on the grass or perch themselves on wooden stools and snack on peanuts stuffed in paper cones, and the coolies and samsui women would go around hawking their wares before the show.
The audience sat in half-darkness, reveling in the near-perfect tranquility, partly hypnotized by the soothing sounds of the singing cicadas, the delicate rustling of the trees in the slight breeze, the gentle lapping of the Singapore river. While it was definitely a novel and refreshing experience, what stood out more was how evocative it was. One will find one's senses titillated as the night unfolds. There was no place I'd rather be, and I pitied the masses of people in the air -conditioned shopping malls, who were throwing away their hard earned cash on material things that would never fully satisfy them, and not knowing what they were missing out on.
It was a little surreal, trying to reclaim a tiny fragment of the past, when in fact the simple, rustic charm of the venue was framed against the backdrop of the urban cityscape, against the towering skyscrapers, incandescent as they loomed in the distance, dazzling us with the powerful artificial light, the very epitome of modernity.
The juxtaposition of the two places served as a reminder that while progress was inevitable, and though Singapore is now known as a vibrant, cosmopolitan city, we can look back and still find traces of the sleepy fishing village it once was in the post colonial era.
Some of the following films screened at the Festival Village.
I found this surprisingly catchy and heartwarming.
An extract of the film Lighthouse by Anthony Chen.