German film 'Metropolis' opens 6th Int'l Silent Film Festival
The German silent film “Metropolis” (1927), the first film honored by the UNESCO to be inscribed in its “Memory of the World Register,” opens Asia’s only silent film festival on Aug. 24, 7 p.m., at the Shang Cineplex in Mandaluyong City.
The 6th International Silent Film Festival also features for the first time an American silent film, “Safety Last” (1923), directed by Fritz Lang, while Filipino director Raymond Red showcases his films “Eternity” (1983) and “Pelikula” (1985), organizers said.
Richard Kunzel, director of the Goethe-Institut Philippinen, told reporters at a press conference that the present “International Silent Film Festival” in Manila became “international” only in 2007 when the Goethe-Institut was joined by the Instituto Cervantes de Manila and Japan Foundation-Manila in featuring silent films from their countries. The three agencies became the founding partners of the “International Silent Film Festival” in Manila.
Kunzel said only German films were shown in 2006 when it was still the “German Silent Film Festival.”
The embassies of Czech Republic, France, Italy, and Greece joined in 2008 while “The Brides of Sulu,” whose origins are still being debated upon, was presented as a silent film from the Philippines in 2011, he added.
Philippine films “will continue to shape the face of this festival,” Kunzel said, welcoming the inclusion of Red’s “Eternity” and “Pelikula” in this year’s roster of films.
Shortest film festival in PHL
“The International Silent Film Festival in Manila, the shortest film festival in the country, is a rare cinematic and musical treat which has built a loyal following through the years,” said Marline Concio-Dualan, marketing division head of the Shangri-La Plaza.
Concio-Dualan said this year’s silent films are from Goethe-Institut, Japan Foundation-Manila, Embassy of Italy, Instituto Cervantes de Manila, the US Embassy, and with the special participation of the Film Development Council of the Philippines.
Germany’s “Metropolis” tells of the story of tycoon Johann Fredersen who runs the Metropolis, the “city of the future” where workers labor beneath the earth and the privileged reside in high-rise buildings and conflict arises as his son, Frederik, falls in love with Maria, a worker from the underworld.
“Metropolis” will be accompanied by the group “Rubber Inc.,” formed by Malek Lopez and Noel de Brackinghe in 1998, and is the pioneer of live dance music in the country.
Jose Maria Fons, deputy for cultural affairs of the Instituto Cervantes de Manila, said “La Casa de la Troya,” is an iconic film and a romantic comedy about Fernando, sent by his father to the University of Santiago de Compostela to finish his law degree. While studying, Fernando lives in the Casa de la Troya boarding house, falls in love with Carmiña Castro, and their relationship is opposed by Carmiña’s relatives.
Fons said “La Casa,” directed by Alejandro Pérez Lugin and Manuel Noriega in 1925, will be accompanied by Spanish musician Ignacio Plaza, who will be in Manila for the first time to collaborate with Sinosikat?, the local OPM funk-jazz band.
Yukie Mitomi, Japan Foundation-Manila assistant director, said Yasujiro Ozu’s “I Was Born, But …” (1932) highlights the Japanese director’s “beginning of mature style (of direction) which may lack commercial appeal and may be slow-moving for the general public.”
The Japanese film follows the story of Ryoichi who witnesses a series of events and realizes that his father is not the admirable and great man he thought he was, prompting his father to reflect on his son’s rage and dismay and to deal with his own personal frustration and despair.
Mitomi said reggae sounds from “Tropical Depression” accompany the “I Was Born, But …” film.
Emanuela Adesini, the Italian Embassy’s cultural attaché, said “’La Signora delle Camelie’ is a perfect example of diva films of the period and the films’ great conversation with literature.” The 1915 film chronicles the tragic love story of courtesan Marguerite Gautier and provincial bourgeois Armand Duval.
Adesini said the sound of the improvisation-based instrumental trio, “Garlic,” will attempt to recreate the Paris of the 1920s.
“It is a rare honor that we are included in this International Silent Film Festival,” while noting that “technically, no Philippine silent film has survived,” said director Red of the Philippines. Red recently won the Special Jury Prize and Best Director awards in the 2012 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival awards for his black-and-white film “Kamera Obskura.”
“’Eternity’ and ‘Pelikula’ were shot in the tradition of silent films. I am excited that we are seeing these films in the purest tradition of watching silent films, accompanied by live music. I am still here to influence the musicians while the other directors are already gone,” Red said.
“Eternity” tells the story of a man trapped in a recurrent nightmare of bad dreams while “Pelikula” is a short but sharp five-minute visual offering.
Red said composer Diwa de Leon, violinist and founder of the Makiling Ensemble, lends his original compositions to accompany his two films. De Leon won the 2012 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival award for Best Original Music Score for “Kamera Obskura.”
Before the screening of the two Philippine films, Red and French film critic and historian, Max Tessier who calls Manila his home, will discuss the “heritage of silent cinema in the Philippines” in a forum called “Art Talk” on Aug. 26.
Alan R. Holst, cultural affairs officer of the US Embassy in Manila, emphasized the coincidence that they are joining for the first time the festival when the movie “The Artist” garnered the major awards in the 2012 Academy Awards, namely best picture, best director, best actor, best costume, and best musical score.
Holst said they wanted to show an American film last year “but it was too late to join the preparations.”
“The ‘Safety Last’ is a great comedy. It will be great fun. There is nothing like watching live musicians accompanying a silent film,” he added.
“Safety Last” revolves around the funny misadventures of a store clerk who, after organizing a contest to climb the outside of a tall building, is forced by circumstances to make the perilous climb himself.
The eight-piece ensemble Radioactive Sago Project, led by Francis de Veyra, provides its critically-acclaimed musical fusion and surprising stylistic excursions as accompaniment to the American film. –KG, GMA News
For details, log on to www.shangrila-plaza.com.
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