Showcasing jewels from the silent era

In the earliest days of cinema, films were often played with musical accompaniments. And this vintage form of entertainment was the norm until 1927 when the first synchronized dialogue, including singing, in a feature film was introduced.

In an effort to transport film enthusiasts to a unique cinematic experience – just like in the good old days – the Philippine-Italian Association, the Japan Foundation Manila, Goethe-Institut Philippinen, the Film Development Council of the Philippines, Instituto Cervantes, the British Council, and the Embassies of the United States of America, France and Austria, come together to present the annual International Film Festival at the Shang Cineplex.

Pinoy rock icon Ely Buendia joins International Silent Film Festival by doing the musical accompaniment for the Italian film ‘Maciste All’Inferno’

The event, which coincides with Shangri-La Plaza’s 25th anniversary, will run from today until Aug 28.

With live musical accompaniment by some of the country’s finest music acts, like Ely Buendia, Up Dharma Down and Basti Artadi, and musical ensembles like Brass Pas Pas Pas Pas, Makiling Ensemble, Tago Jazz Collective and Oh, Flamingo!, the annual festival is poised to be bigger and grander.

It is good to note that the festival is also celebrating its 10th year of showcasing these cinematic jewels from the silent era. And for this milestone, lectures and a round table discussion on Silent Cinema, along with an exhibit on the festival will be added to enrich the celebrations.

“We are challenging ourselves. We want to grow every year by inviting more countries to participate in the annual festival,” says Rolando Samson of The Japan Foundation, Manila.

Rock music artist Basti Artadi

He adds that in the maiden edition of the International Silent Film Festival, the audience witnessed only three participating countries exhibiting their films, but in the festival’s latest edition, a total of 9 countries are participating in the celebrated film event.

“We even incorporated an exhibit component in the festival. Our goal is to help preserve cinematic heritage and make audience appreciate it,” Samson adds.

Indie band Up Dharma Down lend their musical talent for the films ‘Der Balletterzherzog’ and ‘Der letzte Mann,’respectively

Known as the first of its kind in South East Asia, the film event kicked off with an exhibit illustrating the 10-year journey of the unique festival. The exhibit, which opened on Aug. 16 at the Grand Atrium of The Shang, was curated by photographer and visual and graphic artist Nikkorlai Tapan.

“Viewers can immerse in the art and history of the movie industry’s golden era with a live movie set, an interactive photo wall that lets you create your own personal movie poster,” Tapan says.

The festival’s opening salvo is a film from the UK – Play On! Silent Shakespeare – at 7:30 p.m. today. The new compilation of silent Shakespeare shorts includes the world’s earliest surviving Shakespeare adaptation, King John, and an early version of Hamlet. The film will be scored with the stylings of Tago Jazz Collective.

The films to be exhibited include: our country’s very own Maicling Maicling Pelicula nang Ysang Indio Nacional, set in the Spanish-ruled 1890s Philippines (will be shown along with the sounds of indie rock band, Oh! Flamingo), on Aug. 26, 5:30 p.m.; Italy’s Maciste All’Inferno, to be introduced with a lecture by Nick Deocampo, and will be accompanied by music by Ely Buendia (Aug. 26, 8 p.m.); Spanish zarzuela, La Revoltosa, with musical score to be performed by the DingDong Fiel Music Ensemble and tenor Miguel Ángel Lobato (Aug. 27, 3 p.m.); Japan’s Muteki, scored by the Makiling Band (Aug. 27, 5:30 p.m.); American movie, For Heaven’s Sake on Aug. 27, 8 p.m., scored by Brass Pas Pas Pas Pas; France’s Le Pied de Mouton and Le Petit Soucet, with music composed and arranged by Felipe A. Latonio, Jr. (Aug. 28, 3 p.m.); and Austria’s Der Balletterzherzog, accompanied by Wolfgang’s Basti Artadi (Aug. 28, 5:30 p.m.).

Capping off the four-day event is the German film, Der letzte Mann, considered by many as the legendary F.W. Murnau’s most important work and one of the most revolutionary works in film history on Aug. 28, 8 p.m., to be scored by internationally-recognized local band, Up Dharma Down.

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