Feb 09

End of the Road for New Yorker Films

New York Times report: 44-Year-Old Indie Film Distributor Is Closing

Indiewire report: End of the Road for New Yorker Films

“After 43 years in business, New Yorker Films has ceased operations. We would like to thank the filmmakers and producers who trusted us with their work, as well as our customers, whose loyalty has sustained us through the years.”

Founded in 1965 by Dan Talbot, New Yorker has a legendary legacy, boasting a long-standing track record in international film distribution, bringing a staggering number of international auteurs to this country’s movie theaters over more than four decades. The company’s crucial role in establishing a lasting film culture in this country cannot be underestimated. A New York Times profile in 1987, marking a 14-week salute to the company at New York’s Public Theater, listed an illustrious roster of filmmakers whose films were released by the company: Ackerman, Bertolucci, Bresson, Chabrol, Fassbinder, Fellini, Godard, Herzog, Kieslowski, Malle, Rohmer, Rossellini, Sembene, Wenders, Schlondorff, and many others.

“‘These are ‘difficult’ films, not popular mass-market films,’’ Dan Talbot told the New York Times in the 1987 profile. ‘‘They’re meant for a small, elite audience. And nothing has changed in 20 years; it’s still a very tiny, elite audience. There were other distributors who were bringing in these films, but I would say that our role was to introduce some of the more risky films that on the surface did not seem to have a wide audience. Distribution of that kind is a very financially masochistic business. This is an audience that generally knows at least one foreign language, that has done a certain amount of traveling, that is probably interested in wine and foreign cars and that is fed up with all the junk that comes out of the West Coast. There’s been no dynamic expansion; there is still a limited audience for this kind of film.’’

Feb 09

For Alipate

I learnt through Mr Setareki Tale that Mr Alipate Mateitoga, Acting Director of the Ministry of Information, passed away on 23rd January after a short illness.

Alipate was one of the council members of the Southeast Asia-Pacific Audiovisual Archive Association (SEPAVAA). I last saw him during our Executive Committee meeting in Indonesia in November 2008 to survey the venues for the 13th SEAPAVAA Conference. It was the first time I spent much time with him and he was always thoughtful, enthusiastic and kind. Whenever he introduced himself to our hosts, he would proudly state that he was from Fiji. During our discussions, he would speak up for smaller archives that required more support from the Archive community and volunteer for things he felt should have been done. His contribution to the preservation of audiovisual heritage of Fiji and our region will be remembered long after he left us.

Reverend James Bhagwan, a close affliate of Alipate, wrote in Fiji Times about the the loss and I am sharing extracts of that here, with his kind permission:

“At the time of his death, Alipate was acting Director of Information, and during his time as head of the Ministry of Information’s Film and TV Unit was not just a pioneer in television in Fiji but also a mentor to many of the men and women in the fledgling television industry.

My brother Alipate (I call him brother because he was the only person outside my immediate family to call my mother, “mum” and not be reprimanded with a steely glare) was still in his prime at fifty-two. Even after his funeral and burial, many of his family and friends are still in shock. “Pate” as he was known by family, friends and colleagues had worked at Cable and Wireless (FINTEL) and Radio Fiji and was one of the few who were in William Parkinson’s core team when FM96 was started.

He was part of Australian Channel Nine’s original “Fiji TV” team before the 1987 coup scuttled plans for the early introduction of television in Fiji.

He joined the Han Siedel Foundation based at 56 Domain Road which was to become the Fiji National Video Centre and is now the Ministry of Information’s Film and Television Unit, where for many years he was the Prinicipal Information Officer and the driving force behind the Dateline Fiji, Voqa Ni Davui and Sitara programs.

Many of Fiji’s television camera operators, producers and editors were inducted into the industry by Pate, who at the time of his death was the acting Director of Information.

A musician and recording engineer in his own right, Pate is also missed by the Fiji music industry as well as the JICA Alumni where he had served as its president for four years.”

As we hold Alipate in our prayers and thoughts, the Executive Committee of SEAPAVAA has compiled some pictures of him during his times with us in Manila and Indonesia.


SEAPAVAA Conference in Manila (2008) by Dhani Sugiharto


SEAPAVAA Conference in Manila (2008) by Dhani Sugiharto


SEAPAVAA Conference in Manila (2008) by Tuenjai Sinthuvnik


Excursion after the SEAPAVAA Conference in Manila (2008) by Adrian Wood


Excursion after the SEAPAVAA Conference in Manila (2008) by Adrian Wood


EC Meeting in Indonesia (2008) by Dhani Sugiharto


EC Meeting in Indonesia (2008) by Dhani Sugiharto


EC Meeting in Indonesia (2008) by Adrian Wood


EC Meeting in Indonesia (2008) by Adrian Wood


EC Meeting in Indonesia (2008) by Adrian Wood

Feb 09

Singapore (1947) by John Brahm


“There is no longer a literate audience for the masculine picture-making that Hawks and Wellman exploited, as there was in the 1930’s. In those exciting movie years, a smart audience waited around each week for the next Hawks, Preston Sturges, or Ford film – shoe-stringers that were far to the side of the expensive Hollywood film. That underground audience, with its expert voice in Otis Ferguson and its ability to choose between percetive trash and the Thalberg pepsin-flavored sloshing with Tracy and Gable, has now oozed away. It seems ridiculous, but the Fergusonite went into fast decline during the mid-1940’s when the movie market was flooded with fake underground films – plushy thrillers with neo-Chandler scripts and a romatic style that seemed to pour the gore, histrionics, decor out of a giant catsup bottle. The nadir of these films: an item called Singapore with Fred MacMurray and Ava Gardner.” – Manny Farber, Negative Space.


Feb 09

Moon Over Malaya (1957)



The print, the only one left in the world, of Moon Over Malaya (1957) directed by Chun Kim (assistant directed by Chor Yuen) reached us last month. We are preparing for the first Charity Screening to raise funds for the Asian Film Archive, a non-governmental and non-profit organisation, dedicated to save, explore and share the art of Asian Cinema. More details will be released soon.

Through the kind contribution of ?????, Lai Chee Kien and Bibah, we’ve managed to identify the location of this still: the garden of Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque, Johor Bahru.

Moon Over Malaya, also known as ??? or The Whispering Palm, was shot in Singapore and Malaysia. It was produced by Kong Ngee, founded by the Ho brothers (Ho Khee-yong and Ho Khee-siang). Shaw Brothers, Cathay Organisation and Kong Ngee were the three major studios in Singapore in the 50s. The Nanyang Trilogy by Kong Ngee in 1957, was shot in Singapore and Malaysia. Moon Over Malaya, the most acclaimed of the three films, was in Cantonese and starred Patrick Tse, Nam Hung and Patsy Kar Ling. The other two films of the trilogy were Blood Stains the Valley of Love and She Married an Overseas Chinese.

Other early Chinese films made in Singapore include:

1. New Immigrant or Xin Ke directed by Liu Pei Jing (1926) should be the first Chinese language film made in Singapore. The film, however, was lost. No film historian or scholar or programmer I know, has actually seen it.

2. Chinese filmmakers Hau Yaw and Wan Hai Ling directed 8 Malay films in Singapore with the Shaw Brothers from 1938-1941. Wan Hai Ling was also the first female director recruited to make feature films in Singapore.

3. Lion City (1960), directed by Yi Sui, was the first Chinese film in Mandarin, shot in Singapore and produced by Cathay-Keris. The Asian Film Archive holds this title in our collection.

Feb 09

Singapore and the Sea


Two Ships Heading Away from Shore (1856 – 1857) by Gustave Le Gray

Some of the first moving images of Singapore the world saw, were of that its seaport. French filmmaker George Melies shot A Day at Singapore (1913) and commented: “A most interesting little trip around the show places of Singapore, Straits Settlements, one of the largest seaports in the world.” Three years earlier, Pathé made a film, Singapore (1910) documenting the scenes of its waterfront scenes, city-centre and the Chinese and Malay quarters. In 1928, MGM made Across to Singapore. In it, the male protagonist, Joel, was left abandoned in Singapore.

Most interesting for me: Road to Singapore (1931) by Alfred Green and Out of Singapore or Gangsters of the Sea (1932) by Charles Hutchinson. Made one year apart, the films were about journeys to and from Singapore. Despite the prominence of Singapore in its title, both films were shot primarily in the seas. In Out of Singapore, the Caucasian cast was also made to look like Asian. Made in the same year, Samarang (Out of the Sea) (1932) by Ward Wing (Pathé) was set in Singapore using Malay Bangsawan actors, one of whom was Shariff Medan. The film about pearl divers, bathing beauties and sharks, premiered in U.S in 1933 and was released in Sg in 1934. Eighteen years later, Jaafar Wiryo made Perwira Lautan Teduh or Warrior of the Calm Seas (1952) with the Cathay-Keris Film Productions.

Between by B

Feb 09

Collecting Cinema Trees III

Zoom In
Tree 1

Tree 2

Tree 3

Tree 4

Zoom Out
Tree 5

Tree 6

Tree 7

Tree 8

Two Or Three Things I Know About Her (1966) by Jean-Luc Godard