On the Block: The Substation Film Fest Weekend


These films are a form of silent demonstration.

The country’s landmarks are in peril. Modernist megastructures People’s Park and Golden Mile, structures of post-war aspiration and ideology, are on the chopping block.

In what can only be described as a chronic demolition complex, Singapore has altered its coast-and-sky lines, defaced and rezoned nature, redeveloped living spaces, and torn down inefficient ones—all to feed capitalism’s insatiable appetite.

Like a serpent eating its own tail, the legacies of countless landmarks have been eroded in exchange for upward mobility and tourist theme parks. Are structures with potential capital gain the only ones worth saving?

The films in this block demonstrate how land and infrastructural changes affect people—our psychology, philosophy, and way of life. They remind us that the identity of community is inextricable from its environment. They prove that there is soul in the most concrete of buildings, and beauty in the complexes of dreams they contain.


*Wang Bing’s nine-hour opus, West of the Tracks is a free screening.

Guests are welcome to wander in, out, and down… to our new SAD basement bar for sustenance.


*Season pass holders are advised to come at least 20 minutes early to secure your seat.

**Concessions are limited, and apply only to Full Time Students and National Servicemen (NSF). ID required at entry.

After 27 July 2018, tickets can only be purchased at the door. Contact valerie@substation.org for more info.


Aquarius by Kleber Mendonça Filho [Opening Film, Singapore Premiere] [R21/TBC]

2016 ‧ Drama ‧ 2h 26m

27 July, Friday, 7.15–10pm

Watch the trailer here.

Clara, a 65-year-old widow and retired music critic, born into a wealthy and traditional family in Recife, Brazil. She is the only remaining resident of the Aquarius, a 1940s, two-story building on the upmarket and seafront Avenida Boa Viagem. All the neighbouring apartments have been acquired by developers, who are determined to drive her out. This forces Clara, who has pledged to leave the Aquarius only upon her death, to become embroiled in a war of sorts with the company. While the tension and confrontation disturb her, they stir thoughts of her loved ones, her past, and her future. Released to controversy during the peak of Brazil’s crisis, the socio-political shambles of Recife serve as backdrop for a powerful and private rumination on one’s connection to place.

Western by Valeska Grisebach [PG13]

2017 ‧ Drama ‧ 2h 1m

28 July, Saturday, 4.30–6.30pm

Watch the trailer here.

A group of German workers sets off to a remote countryside in the border region between Bulgaria and Greece. This foreign land and its breathtaking landscape awaken the men's sense of adventure, but they are confronted with tension and mutual distrust. The stage is quickly set for a showdown when the men begin to compete for recognition and favour from the local villagers. Poised at a confluence of insular communities on the cusp of modernity, and how each must grapple with their own prejudices, cultural differences, and misapprehensions, in order to co-exist.

Land and Shade by César Augusto Acevedo [PG]

2015 ‧ Drama ‧ 1h 37m

28 July, Saturday, 7.30 – 9pm

Watch the trailer here.

Alfonso is an old farmer who has returned home to tend to his son, who is gravely ill. He rediscovers his old house, where the woman who was once his wife still lives, with his daughter-in-law and grandson. The landscape that awaits him resembles a wasteland. Vast sugar cane plantations surround the house, producing perpetual clouds of ash. 17 years after abandoning them, Alfonso’s return confronts the economic and environmental turmoil faced by rural communities, as well as the fragility of family and home under threat.

West of the Tracks by Wang Bing [Singapore Premiere] [R21]

2002 ‧ Documentary ‧ 9h 16m

29 July, Sunday, 11.30am–9.15pm

​In his seminal, 9-hour opus, filmmaker Wang Bing documents the slow, inevitable death of an obsolete manufacturing system. T​ie Xi is a massive industrial complex in northeastern China's Shenyang province. Built during the Japanese occupation of China​ and restructured with Soviet support after World War II, it is the country's oldest and largest manufacturing complex. From the post-war period to the 80s, the thriving factories employed more than a million workers, but like other state-run industries they began to collapse in the early 90s. Between 1999 and 2001, Wang meticulously filmed the lives of the last factory workers, a class of people once promised glory during the Chinese revolution. Now trapped by economic change, the workers become tragic heroes in this deeply moving modern epic.

Guest Producer

Jeremy Chua is a screenwriter and film producer based in Singapore and Paris. After graduating from the Puttnam School of Film at LASALLE College of the Arts in 2012 with the Academic Excellence Award, he became a frequent collaborator with Lowave Paris and Akanga Film Asia. He started producing and writing A Yellow Bird with Fran Borgia and K. Rajagopal, which was premiered in competition at Cannes Critics Week in 2016. An EAVE Ties That Bind graduate in 2013, he runs a film company, Potocol, for international co-productions. Other producing credits include Alfred Bauer Silver Bear winning A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery by Lav Diaz (Berlinale 2016), Brotherhood by Pepe Diokno (Karlovy Vary IFF 2016) and A Family Tour by Ying Liang (Locarno IFF 2018).

Information provided in this brochure is correct at the time of printing and subject to change due to circumstances beyond the event organiser’s control. All films are subject to approval and classification by the Media Development Authority, Singapore.

  • The event description was updated. Diff#352217 2018-07-10 04:06:20
More updates
Jul 27 - Jul 29, 2018
[ Fri ] - [ Sun ]
7:15 PM - 9:30 PM SGT
Add to Calendar
The Substation
Season Pass SOLD OUT $30.00
Season Pass (Concession) SOLD OUT $20.00
Season Pass (Early Bird) SOLD OUT $30.00
Season Pass (Early Bird Concession) SOLD OUT $20.00
Aquarius [R21/TBC] SOLD OUT $12.00
Aquarius (Concession) [R21/TBC] SOLD OUT $8.00
Western [PG13] SOLD OUT $12.00
Western (Concession) [PG13] SOLD OUT $8.00
Land and Shade [PG] SOLD OUT $12.00
Land and Shade (Concession) [PG] SOLD OUT $8.00
West of the Tracks FULL
Venue Address
45 Armenian St, Singapore 179936 Singapore
The Substation

Sponsored content