16 years of music and silent films

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A SCENE from Nosferatu.

THE INTERNATIONAL Silent Film Festival returns to the big screen with nine films from different countries (including three from our own) and local talent providing the accompanying score.

The film festival will run from Nov. 24 to 27 at the movie theaters of the Shangri-La Plaza Mall in Mandaluyong.

Piccadilly, a film about a maid turned dancer, will be scored by Anahata. Horror classic Nosferatu will be scored by The Brockas, while Malvaloca, a 1926 Spanish film once thought to be lost, will be scored by Talahib. Japan’s entry to the film festival, The Lady and the Beard, by renowned filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu, will be scored by Bullet Dumas and is about a conservative student who saves a young girl from ruffians. I Figli di Nessuno will be scored by Pepe Manikan and is based on an Italian novel by Ruggero Rundi. All these films were made from a period between 1919 to 1931.

The Filipino entries are much more recent: all were made in 2021. Vahn Pascual’s Alingasngas ng mga Kuliglig (scored by Karl Arthur Javier and Nik Rosacay) is about a boy-healer who falls in love with a tikbalang (a mythical half-horse, half-person). Gabriela Serrano’s Dikit is about a cursed woman obsessed with her new neighbors, to be scored by Paolo Almaden. EJ Gagui and Marienel Calma’s Ing Tianak, about the supernatural demon-infant in Filipino folklore, will be scored by Pau Protacio.

Musical accompaniment will be provided by BConcept and Vincent del Rosario.

Partner institutes with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) that provided the films in the lineup include the Embassy of France, the Goethe-Institut Philippinen, the Embassy of Italy with the Philippine Italian Association, the Japan Foundation Manila, Instituto Cervantes de Manila, and the British Council in the Philippines.

16 YEARS OF FILM AND MUSICThis is the film festival’s 16th year. Martin Macalintal, Cultural Attache of the Embassy of France to the Philippines, said during a press conference on Nov. 8, “When we started this, we thought of having the films scored by Filipino musicians. This is being honest — we wanted to attract more viewers. Who was going to show silent films 16 years ago?”

“We would probably attract what, 50 viewers, who would have some kind of film culture and would want to watch these silent films,” he said, with the idea that local artists who had a following would bring their fanbase along to the films. “Through the years, we realized that there is an audience for silent films. We (also) realized that basically, the Filipino musician is very talented.”

Mr. Macalintal gives as an example the pairing of a French film with Philippine indigenous music, which would change the experience from the film’s original context.

“It’s about breathing new life to film heritage that is 102 years old this year. That’s something that I think this festival is unique (for). It’s something that keeps culture alive,” he said. “That is where you see the exchanges between cultures. It provides additional wealth into what we are finally producing.”

The films will be screened between Nov. 24 to 27 — Piccadilly (Nov. 24), Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (Nov. 25), La sultane de l’amour (Nov. 25), Malvaloca (Nov. 26), The Lady and The Beard (Nov. 26), I Figli di Nessuno (Nov. 27), Alingasngas ng Mga Kuliglig, Dikit, and Ing Tianak (Nov. 27). Screenings are at 5 p.m. for Nosferatu and Malvaloca; and 8 p.m. for Piccadilly, Sultan de l’amour, The Lady and the Beard, and the final films on Nov. 27.

There will be several pocket events throughout the week, including a talk on film restoration on Nov. 27, as well as a talk with the musicians involved in the project on Nov. 26. Tickets are available onsite.

For more information, visit facebook.com/InternationalSilentFilmFestivalManila. — Joseph L. Garcia