The much-awaited yearly International Silent Film Festival Manila (ISFFM) is back. Established in 2007 as the very first event of its kind in Asia, the ISFFM promises to bring once more to Manila film buffs and music aficionados an extraordinary experience.
From the 1890s to the 1920s, audiences around the world were enchanted by the magic of watching soundless images on a screen accompanied by live music played by different performing artists. This year, 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, are extremely proud to present the 11th edition of the International Silent Film Festival in Manila.
Scheduled from August 31 to September 3 at the Shang Cineplex, Shangri-La Plaza, Mandaluyong City, the 2017 ISFFM brings together the very best of silent cinema from its nine member-countries, to be accompanied by the best Filipino musicians on the scene and a French-Vietnamese guest artist.
The Festival reels off at 8 pm on August 31 with Instituto Cervantes presenting the classic action-comedy “El Golfo” (1918), directed by José de Togores. Starring Irene Heredia, Mariano Ozores and Ernesto Vilches, the film tells the story of Enrique Villar, a tramp, who goes through much trouble to win the heart of his lady love. The rock band Talahib will accompany this film with a live performance.
On September 1, at 7:30 pm, the British Council will present a unique offering. Thanks to the discovery of an alternative print at the Brussels Cinematheque Royale, and advancement in photo-chemical and digital techniques, the British Film Institute has restored the magnificence of Anthony Asquith’s “Underground”, a 1928 silent romance that reveals 1920s London life in the underground tube system. A live musical performance by dub band Goodleaf will accompany the film.
At 9:30 pm, also on September 1, the Embassy of France to the Philippines will present “L’Inhumaine” or “The New Enchantment” (1923), a story of love and deceit directed by Marcel L’Herbier. The film will be scored by the French-Vietnamese harpist Heloïse LaHarpe, together with Ryan Villamor on piano and synthesizer and Aldous Castro on percussion and handpans.
Meanwhile, on September 2 at 3 pm, the Philippine Italian Association together with the Embassy of Italy will screen the world premiere of an experimental silent film by Filipino-Italian director Ruben Maria Soriquez: “Una Famiglia Perfetta” or “A Perfect Family” (2017). The movie will be live-scored by the instrumental rock trio Tom’s Story.
At 5 pm, the Japan Foundation, Manila will feature “Hijosen no Onna” or “Dragnet Girl” (1933) by YasujiroOzu. This screening will feature a rare performance by Ichiro Kataoka, a noted benshior silent film narrator-actor-storyteller from Japan, who will provide a live interpretation of the silent film. The screening and narration will be accompanied by The Celso Espejo Rondalla, a group which plays Filipino music on traditional native string instruments.
Ending the night with an 8 pm screening will be the Philippines with Gym Lumbera’s two person drama “Taglish” (2012), which started as a damaged film entitled Tagalog, then English, and finally the present title Taglish. The film will be accompanied by the stoner-metal quartet Kapitan Kulam.
On September 3 at 3 pm, the Embassy of Austria will feature “Cafè Elektric” (1927) directed by Gustav Ucicky. Café Elektric was the last film made and released by Sascha-Film, the first major film studio in Vienna. The live score will be played by one of the most established Filipino bands, Rivermaya.
At 5:30 pm, Goethe-Institut Philippinen will screen one of silent cinema’s masterworks, “Pandora’s Box” (1929), by George Wilhelm Pabst. Based on the controversial plays of Frank Wedekind, the film features the dazzling Louise Brooks in her classic bobbed hairstyle as Lulu. Pandora’s Box will be accompanied by the band Sandwhich, led by local rock icon Raymond Marasigan.
Closing the festival at 8 pm will be the US Embassy’s screening of one of the most-revered comedies of the silent era, “The General” (1926). Co-directed by Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton, the film also stars the iconic Keaton as an ill-fated railroad engineer. The film will be scored by a band of veteran musicians—exponents of Motown, Stax, Funk, Blues and Soul—the Flippin Soul Stompers.
This year’s film’s festival experience will have a unique addition, an exhibit at The Atrium of the Shangri-La by partner organization Para sa Sining, from August 31 to September 3. This community of creative collaborators will also present contemporary films of the silent film genre by their member-filmmakers.
On September 3 at 2 pm, 7:15 pm and 9:30 pm, the group will present Musika x Pelikula, during which their films will be scored by live musical performances from young and upcoming Filipino artists.
All screenings will be open to the public on a first come, first served basis.