13th International Silent Film Festival Manila

Organized and sponsored by the Embassy of Austria, Film Development Council of the Philippines, Goethe-Institut Manila, Instituto Cervantes de Manila, The Japan Foundation Manila and the Philippine-Italian Association. The 13th International Silent Film Festival was a spectacular performance incorporating international movie classics with contemporary music performed by local bands.

The event commenced August 30 and ended September 1. I was only able to attend the Saturday and Sunday events, I missed the opening program and the opening film screening of “Native Life in the Philippines“, a documentary film by Dean Worcester about the Kalingas, made in 1913. The live music score was performed by Munimuni.

On August 31, Saturday, I was fortunate to attend the lecture of Nick Deocampo. Deocampo is a multi-awarded film maker, historian and advocate.

He discussed a brief history of cinema and how it was introduced in the Philippines. According to his research, the Philippines was one of the very first countries that introduced cinema in Asia. Only a month after cinema was introduced in Paris by the Lumiere brothers.

The lecture also gave the audience a glimpse of the first movies ever made which are now called travelogues. The exotic was something that attracted the early cinematographers. It was a delightful display of the richness of our past.

During the Q&A, he mentions that cinema is still in its young years even though it’s been around for 100 years. I like that he acknowledges how technology will take part in how we will eventually make movies and how we tell stories. Such technologies include 360 degree video captures and virtual reality.

Not long after the lecture, Orizu Osen (The Downfall of Osen), 1935 by Kenji Mizoguchi commenced. It was 90 minutes long. The silent movie was about Osen and her efforts to help the young Shokichi in his dream of becoming a doctor. It was a touching story of sacrifice and fortune. “The Downfall of Osen” is based on a novel “Baishoku Kamo Nanban” by Kyoka Izumi.

Orizu Osen was introduced by Japan Foundation Manila’s director Hiroaki Uesugi representing the foundation and the Embassy of Japan.

The musical score was performed by Kaduma ni Karol. The band plays “contemporary pre-colonial music” fusing indigenous traditional musical influences and languages from the north to the south of the Philippines. The live music score was so fitting; It was eerie and intense especially the drum beats and Carol Bello’s voice.

Es Mi Hombre (He’s my Man), 1927, by Carlos Fernandez Cuenca was Spain’s entry in the festival. The comedy was introduced by Instituto Cervantes in Manila’s director Javier Galvan Guijo representing Instituto Cervantes and the Embassy of Spain.

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The musical score of the movie was from Tarsius composed of Diego Mapa and Jay Gapasin. The duo incorporated electronic music and live instrumentation to give life to the film.

L’Onesta del Peccato (The Wife He Neglected) was Embassy of Italy and Philippine-Italian Association’s entry in the festival. The movie was created and shown in 1918 by Augusto Genia.

The movie was about Maria Jacobini. She was portrayed as a strong-willed woman. Maria, born with a silver spoon, experiences some difficulties after becoming a wife. At first she thought that she will never be alone once she gets married, it turned out to be the opposite.

She realized that not all people can be trusted not even her own husband. She discovers her new found freedom and the reality of what she is and what she can become.

L’Onesta del Peccato was introduced by Philippine-Italian Association’s Manager, Alessandro Milani. Stef&No is a saxophone player and composer from Turin, Italy which is also where the movie was set. Milani said it was completely a coincidence that a musician from Turin is actually giving life to the film.

The joint effort with the Pocket Orchestra was out of this world! I’ve never heard of such a melody. The composition was made by Stefano Chiapello.

On Sunday, September 1, there were only two countries participating, Germany and Austria.

Von Morgen Bis Mittenachts (From Morn to Midnight) is the entry from Goethe Insitut. The screenplay is about a cashier in a small bank who stole money from the rich. The film was adapted from the Expressionist theater play by Georg Kaiser. Made by Karlheinz Martin in 1921. The most memorable quote from the film says, “Money is the biggest scam, stay away from it!”. The movie runs for 73 minutes.

Among all the movies, this was the most interactive. The band, Anima Tierra, invited the audience to participate by clapping and stomping our feet. Anima Tierra is a music collective driven by  earth-shaking percussive beats and enchanting vocals inspired by traditional music from all over the world.

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Kalif Storch, is the Austrian Embassy Manila’s entry in the festival. It was created in 1924 by Hans Berger and Ladislaus Tuszynski. The movie runs for 60 minutes. It was based on a fairytale by Wilhelm Hauff from his book “Marchen-Almanach auf das Jahr 1826”.

The Ambassador of the Austrian embassy was also in the audience to represent. Khalif Storch was presented in joint partnership with Hearlife Foundation Inc., Lions Club Makati and Globe Telecom.

The Silent International Festival ended with a bang as the musical score of the movie was presented by Tanya Markova. An 8-member Filipino rock band from manila. The band tagged their music as “shock pop”, “happy goth”, “dark novelty” and “baroque pop”.

Tanya Markova played three more songs after the movie which was definitely a treat!

I have never been to any silent music festival, this is my first and certainly wouldn’t be the last. I am the type of person who’s not into old films but adding a live music performance by local bands has definitely made it all the more pleasurable.

Thank you to all the organizers, the embassies, and organizations who helped in making this event possible. It’s definitely a great initiative and we hope to see more!

 

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