Friday, 27 April 2018

The Girl of Nanjing Road : Part II

N anjing Road by Tewfic El-Sawy on Exposure

I completed another personal project whilst in Shanghai a couple of weeks ago. It's a sequel to The Girl of Nanjing Road (Part 1) which featured Yi Yi as the main (and only visible protagonist).

Both involve Yi Yi as a girl from Shanghai who's in a relationship with a foreign resident of that city during its glorious heydays of the 1930s, and into the start of the battle of Shanghai in 1937.

For historical buffs; the Battle of Shanghai was the first of the twenty-two major engagements fought between the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China (ROC) and the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

During the fierce three-month battle, Chinese and Japanese troops fought in downtown Shanghai. In the end, the city fell, and China lost a significant portion of its best troops, while also failing to elicit any international intervention.

Against this warring background, the Shanghai French Concession was a foreign concession in Shanghai, China from 1849 until 1943, and was a safe haven for a multitude of refugees, including Europeans and Chinese...and notably Jews fleeing the horrors of war in Europe.

The Girl of Nanjing Road Part I And II brings the viewers into that era, are narrated in Mandarin by Yi Yi herself, and accompanied by Chinese songs by Zhou Xuan (China's 'Golden Voice' and one of the most popular and important actress/singers of the 1930s and 40s) and Wu Ying Yin (who was one of the seven great singing stars of the era) to impart an accurate ambiance of Shanghai in the 1930s.

As I wrote in an earlier post, Shanghai was where the best art, the greatest architecture, and the strongest business was in Asia. It rivaled many cosmopolitan European cities, earned the sobriquet of "The Paris of the East" and became known as a place of vice and indulgence. With its dance halls, brothels, glitzy restaurants, international clubs, Shanghai was a city that catered to every whim of the rich. 

The 3 minutes script was revised, edited and re-written countless times...until the narration was felt to sound "right".

For the technophiles: I recorded the narrations using an iPhone fitted with a "dead cat" and a specialized audio recorder, then edited the audio tracks using Audacity, merging Yi Yi's narrations with the songs and various sound effects. The still images and audio tracks were converted to an mp4 using iMovie.

For Part II, the still photographs were all made using the medium format Fuji GFX50s and the 63mm 2.8 lens.