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Red Dragonflies

Singapore | 96 min | English, Mandarin, Malay, Japanese | English, Traditional Chinese Subtitles | HD

  • Special Jury Prize, International Competition: Jeonju International Film Festival 2010
  • International Competition: Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Films 2010 (BAFICI)
  • FIPRESCI Competition: Hong Kong International Film Festival 2010
  • Asian New Talent Competition: Shanghai International Film Festival 2010
  • International Competition: Santiago International Film Festival 2010
  • Winds of Asia-Arab Competition, Tokyo International Film Festival 2010

“a film that we valued above all for its mysterious evocation of Singapore’s disappearing history – both social and personal – and its gentle depiction of innocence and passing youth. We felt that there were moments in this small, relatively low-budget, non-formulaic film by first time director Liao Jiekai that displayed great sensitivity and promise for the future.” – International Competition Jury of Jeonju International Film Festival (critic/curators Philip Cheah and Michael Witt and filmmakers Nacer Khemir, Bae Chang-ho and Lav Diaz)

“The film delicately interweaves personal memory with the excavation of the recent past of Singapore.”  – Chris Fujiwara

“Nostalgia doesn’t quite get to the complexity of Red Dragonflies‘ poetic charge… there is a suggestion of a flashback structure, but past and present aren’t rendered in the usual visual cues of nostalgia or remembrance. Rather, past and present are the same shallow-focus dreamworld, where the sounds of the world –- a shopping mall drone, an air-con rumble, the echoing chirps of birds –- sear vividly into focus (thanks to a near-complete lack of background music). It’s as if the present isn’t the natural consequence of the past; rather, the two are chasing each other, running in parallel, haunting each other as memory, hope, loss, and conjecture… Red Dragonflies captures that marvelous fog of nostalgia, yes, but is also of reflection about ourselves in every tense.” – Brian Hu

Website: reddragonflies.sg


Rachel and her two friends explore an abandoned railway track that runs through a dense forest, but an unforeseen incident brings their little adventure to an abrupt end. Elsewhere, 26-year-old Rachel rekindles an old friendship with a high school friend. When a little boy from her past reappears, Rachel finds herself retracing a trail of iron and wood. Wistful and mysterious, the film depicts a world littered with incongruity, absences and traces of childhood dreams.

Director’s Statement

The project RED DRAGONFLIES started with a discovery of a home-video tape, which documented a hike through an abandoned railway track back in my high school days. The handheld footage that was collectively recorded by different people was an exciting find for me. More than just mere personal memories, the video reveals an intertwined relationship between the place, the people and the time: there is something displaced yet strangely coherent about a group of 17-year-olds dressed in red and white T-shirts and black track pants, walking through an overgrown railway in the early months of 2002. I conceived the film from personal memories of growing up and sentiments about a point in life where one starts to rethink childhood dreams, the purpose of work, and the pursuit of happiness.

The film also depicts a series of portraits of places. In a city undergoing rapid redevelopment, Singapore’s old towns, aging infrastructures and icons of the previous century are being torn down or refurbished. Upon the completion of our production, parts of the abandoned railway tracks were demolished to make way for the expansion of a Buddhist temple in the neighborhood; other segments were barricaded for redevelopment. By filming slices of life in these places and realigning them in the context of the story, I want to capture and preserve the collective memories of different generations of people, and how they affect the characters in both profound and mundane ways.

Technical Specifications

Country of production: Singapore

Running length: 96 minutes / COLOR

Year of production: 2010

Language: English, Mandarin, Malay, Japanese

Subtitles: English and Traditional Chinese

Original Format: HD

Screening Format: HDCAM

Aspect Ratio: 1:1.85

Sound: Stereo


Director/Writer: Liao Jiekai

Producers: Lyn-Anne Loy, Tan Bee Thiam

Cinematographer: Looi Wan Ping

Sound Recordists: Lam Yong Jin, Lee Kar Hoe Matthew Nicholas, Lan Hao Yong Douglas, Lim Lung Chieh

Editors: Liao Jiekai, Looi Wan Ping, Tan Bee Thiam

Sound Design: Matthew Koh

Assistant Director: Daniel Hui

Production Designer: Annette Heitmann

Art Director: Roan Lizhen

Camera Assistant/Gaffer: Kel Tay

Grips: Athalia Ho, Oh Jiji

Art Department Assistants: Lee Kexin, Wu Huimin

Music: Hualampong Riddim, Leslie Low

Colorists: Peace Villow, Noppasak Poonpipat

Set Photographer: Han Tan

Publicity Design: Debbie Ding


Ng Xuan Ming

Jason Hui

Thow Xin Wei

Oon Yee Jeng

Yeo Shang Xuan

Ong Kuan Loong

Chen Mei Guang

Haruka Ashida

Previous Screenings (Prizes Awarded)


Jeonju International Film Festival (Special Jury Prize – International Competition)

Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Films (International Competition)

Hong Kong International Film Festival (FIPRESCI Competition)

Shanghai International Film Festival (Asian New Talent Competition)

Director’s Biography
Liao Jiekai is an award-winning filmmaker based in Singapore. He received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and lectures Media Education and Visual Arts (International Baccalaureate) at the School of the Arts, the first and only pre-tertiary arts institution in Singapore.

Since 2005, he has directed several short films, most notably Clouds in a Shell and The Inner City, which was selected for competition at the 2nd Asian Berlin Hot Shots. Most recently, his own debut feature length film, Red Dragonflies won the Special Jury Prize at the Jeonju International Film Festival, especially noted for discovering independent filmmakers. The film was also selected for international competition in the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Films (BAFICI), FIPRESCI competition in the Hong Kong International Film Festival and Asia New Talent competition in the Shanghai International Film Festival.

He is a founding member of 13 Little Pictures, a film collective that champions innovative feature films, hailed by critics as the “real New Wave” from Singapore. His active involvement in the Singapore film scene brought him credentials as producer and editor of several independent films.

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