Vancouver Taiwanese Film Festival: Singer Yi-feng Hong's life celebrated in Abba
Armed with a melodious tenor voice and ability on piano, violin, and accordion, Yi-feng Hong was regarded by many as one of the most iconic musicians in Taiwan’s history. While his career started with cabaret singing in the 1950s, Hong went on to compose and record hundreds of songs, and appear on radio, television, and film until his death in 2010.
Abba, which means “father” in Chinese, attempts to craft a balanced picture between Hong’s professional contributions and his life as a father. The documentary, directed by Hong’s son Rong-liang, begins at a tribute concert in Taiwan celebrating Hong’s life and music—just months before Hong would succumb to pancreatic cancer. More than 30 contemporary Taiwanese singers, including Huei-mei Chang and Jih-ching Cheng, perform popular songs written by “The King of Formosan Song” to a packed stadium. Excerpts from the high-energy concert are contrasted with flashbacks of Hong as a strict father, one who forced his kids into daily singing lessons and stuffed raw eggs and garlic cloves down their throats because it was “good for the vocal chords”.
The film also visits Hong’s childhood residences and his sons reconnect with old “aunties” and “uncles”, eager to share their favourite memories of Hong with the camera. What Abba ultimately becomes—besides a look back at Hong’s mark on music history—is a vehicle for mourning and healing for those closest to Taiwan’s treasured singer.
Vancouver Taiwanese Film Festival presents Abba on Sunday (July 1) at 6:45 p.m.
Watch the trailer for Abba.