Giving silent old films new twist

Legendary rock band The Dawn will be part of the International Silent Film Festival’s 9th edition where nine countries are participating for the first time.

Organized by Goethe-Institut, Instituto Cervantes, the Japan Foundation, Manila, the Philippine- Italian Association, the Film Development Council of the Philippines, and the Embassies of Austria, France, Thailand, and the United States of America, the prestigious film event will be held on Aug. 27 to 30 at the Shang Cineplex, Shangri-La Plaza in Mandaluyong City.

The Dawn will accompany Italy’s Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei (The Last Days of Pompeii) from 1913 and directed by Mario Caserini.

Based on Edward George Bulwer-Lytton’s 1834 novel of the same name, the film is set during the final days leading up to the Mount Vesuvius eruption in Pompeii in 79 AD. It is a disaster film, which highlights a dramatic love story set against the backdrop of a doomed city.

“We are fortunate that we’re given the artistic freedom to lay in mood tracks and existing songs of The Dawn rearranged to fit the scenes,” rock icon and The Dawn frontman, Jet Pangan, told The Standard.

The musician added that music plays an important part in conveying emotions of the characters and hence he and his band mates consider scoring Pompei a big challenge, not to mention that their chosen music must complement the plot and the scenes.

Dubbed as the only one of its kind in Asia, the International Silent Film Festival in Manila will feature the Philippines’ Brides of Sulu with live music from Kjwan and Japan’s series of short silent comedy films, Kokushi Muso (Peerless Patriot), Wasei Kenka Tomodachi (Fighting Friends – Japanese Style), Tokkan Kozo (A Straightforward Boy), and Ishikawa Goemon no Hoji (A Buddhist Mass for Goemon Ishikawa) which will be accompanied by Hidden Nikki.

The festival’s opening film is Austria’s Orlacs Hände (The Hands of Orlac), a 1924 silent horror film based on the fantasy novel of French writer Maurice Renard. Directed by Robert Wiene, the film tells the story of world-famous pianist Paul Orlac, who receives a double hand transplant and later finds out that his new hands belonged to a criminal.

The Orlacs Hände screening on Aug. 27 at the Shang Cineplex will feature a live musical score by The Executives, the Philippines’ oldest Big Band Jazz band founded by the late Senator Raul Manglapus in 1957

Thailand will screen its silent film The Overture on Aug. 29 accompanied by the Royal Thai Navy Traditional Ensemble. Germany’s Berlin, die Sinfonie der Groβstadt (Berlin, Symphony of a Great City) follows Thailand, and will be accompanied by Pierre Oser and the Big Jazz Balloon. Finally, Spain’s Don Juan Tenorio will be shown with the musical performance from The Dingdong Fiel Trio.

Culminating the film festival on Aug. 30 are France’s Paris Qui Dort (The Crazy Ray), accompanied by Ian Lofamia Blues Band, and the USA’s Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans with musical performance from Razorback.

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