The collaboration between old, silent classic films and contemporary live music comes back to entertain film and music enthusiasts for the seventh time at the Manila International Silent Film Festival, which will run from August 23 to 25 at the Shangri-La Plaza Cineplex.
The festival, which remains the only one of its kind in Asia, brings together six films from Japan, Italy, Germany, the United States, Spain, and the Philippines this year. All six films will be accompanied by live music from OPM bands, some of which have already lent their music to earlier installments of the festival.
Teodoro Granados, executive director of the Film Development Council of the Philippines, emphasized the festival’s thrust to bridge the gap between the old and the new through a selection of films that present surprising contrasts.
“It was an era of silence, and yet, through the festival, we will witness that we share a language that pervades all cinemas all over the globe,” he said.
This was echoed by Filipino filmmaker Raymond Red, who is participating in the festival for the second year in a row with his film, Kamera Obskura, which won him the Best Director award and the Jury Prize at the Cinemalaya Film Festival in 2012.
“It would be interesting to see this film with new music, new interpretation. What is unique about this film is not a silent film, but it's not strictly the traditional classic silent film.”
“As a tribute to the lost heritage of silent films in Philippine cinema, we are creating the awareness and the way to finding more classic films from the Philippines,” he said.
The festival will kick off on August 23, Friday, 7:30 pm with an invitational screening of Japan’s Keisatsukan (A Police Officer), which follows a series of events that test the friendship between high school buddies Itami—a police officer—and Tetsuo. Investigating a bank heist that left his mentor, Sergeant Miyabe, seriously wounded, Itami slowly discovers that his friend Tetsuo might be the culprit. Pulso Band, a three-piece instrumental group, lends its rock and blues musical score to the film.
Italy’s La Grazia, one of the best films produced in Italy during the late ‘20s, will be screened on August 24, Saturday, 5 pm. The movie is based on the short story, Di Notte (At Night), written by 1894 Nobel Prize for Literature Grazia Deledda, and is an adaptation from the opera written by Deledda with Claudio Guastalla and Vicenzo Michetti. Set in the small village of Sardinia, a beautiful shepherdess finds herself carrying the child of her lover. Conflict arises as the couple’s passion and love clash with the strict honor code of the shepherds. The unique beats of Sino Sikat accompany the romantic and suspenseful plot of this film.
Germany will then present Ich möchte kein Mann sein (I don’t want to be a man) at 8 pm. Ossi, a spoiled teenager who likes playing poker, smoking, and flirting with young men, finds herself trapped when her uncle hires a tutor to supervise her. She tries to escape by dressing up as a man and plunges into the nightlife, but unexpectedly finds herself drinking man-to-man with her supervisor. Composers Jonas Baes and Pierre Oser, together with the Manila Composer’s Lab, provides musical background to Ossi’s colorful story.
The popular Phantom of the Opera from the USA premieres on August 25, Sunday, at 2 pm. Mysterious things happen at the Paris Opera House as the alleged Opera Ghost falls in love with opera singer Christine. Soon, Christine is kidnapped and her fiancé Raoul is set to rescue her within the undergrounds of the haunted opera house. One of the Philippines’ legendary rock-and-roll bands Razorback adds to the suspense of the show with its strong and powerful music.
Spain’s El Abuelo (The Grandfather), an adaptation of the novel by the reputed Benito Pérez Galdós, will be screened at 5 pm. When his son dies, the Count of Abrit finds out that one of his beloved granddaughters is illegitimate—a result of the dissolute life of his daughter-in-law. He begins a mission to find out who the real and rightful descendent of Abrit is. Quezon City-based band Earthmover cleverly incorporates its dramatic music to the story.
Finally, the Philippines’ very own Kamera Obskura, a meta-film that challenges Filipino viewers to travel back in time and relive the lost silent cinema heritage of its country, will close the festival at 8 pm. Film historians discover a rare Filipino silent film of unknown origins, and are fascinated as it turns out to be influenced by the expressionist cinema of the era—an element unfamiliar and rarely explored in Filipino cinema history. Local blues super group Spy brings its distinct blend of rock, jazz, reggae, and afro-beat to the scene.