Silent Film Fest at Shang Cineplex: “A Rare Privilege”
Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
“The Silent film fest here in Shang Rila could be the only one running in Asia. The Filipino audience is extremely privileged. We are seeing these films with live Filipino produced music. It’s a rare privilege because there are less than ten annual silent film festivals in the whole world,” said Teddy Co (formerly) the Vice Chair of the Cinema Committee of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and currently a member of Society of Filipino Archivists for Film (SOFIA).
Co was a speaker during the press conference for the 5th Silent Film Festival at Shang Cineplex. The Festival will run from August 26 to 28 at Shang Rila Plaza Mall. Silent films from Spain, Greece, Germany and Italy will be featured along with a live soundtrack by Filipino musicians such as Razorback, Panday Pandikul Cultural Troupe, Bandang Malaya, HDC Trio and the FEU Chorale. And for the first time a Filipino silent film that was recently discovered will also be part of the fest. To explain its full significance Co goes on, “There are more than 5000 film fests around the world. They range from the big ones like Cannes, and Berlin to the obscure. In the Phil. we have Cinemalaya and Metro Manila Film Festival. But if you want to find out how many Silent film festivals there are annually there are less than ten. The most famous one is Pordenone in Italy every October. It’s already been running for more than 20 years.”
The 5thSilent Film Fest is presented by Goethe-Institut Philipinen, The Japan Foundation, Manila, Instituto Cervantes, the Embassy of Italy, the Philippine-Italian Association, the Embassy of Greece, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts of the Philippines (NCCA), the Society of Filipino Archivists for Film (SOFIA), Film Development council of the Phil. (FDCP) and the Movie Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).
The precursor to all vampire films “Nosferatu” (A Symphony of Horror) a 1922 German film by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau based on the novel “Dracula” by Bram Stoker. A recognized Silent Film musician and expert Stephen Von Bothmer will accompany the Far Eastern University (FEU) Chorale for live score. Co was also able to provide the context to the performance, “I’ve seen Nosferatu as a silent film. Last year, a goth rock band provided the music which was very fitting. This year it’s a chorale. Every time you change the score, the old film becomes new again. That is why these silent films as an art form will never die. The music will always be there. The music will always be changing, dynamic and shifting. There will always be new music for silent films even if the silent era lasted for only three decades.”
With the recent discovery of two Filipino silent films in an American title called “Brides of Sulu,” Co is encouraged that others may still be found. The cooperation of other countries to him that are already involved in the 5th Silent fest may be of great help: “For thePhilippines it’s very important. With the participation of the Spanish and Mexican Embassies, maybe they can open their film archives. We think there are some Filipino films that have been exported. Maybe they are now labeled in your archives as Spanish films. Not just the silent films but sound films.”
Another beloved silent film classic is an example of this according to him. “The latest version of ‘Metropolis’, there was so many additional scenes that were lost were discovered inBuenos Aires3 years ago. ‘Metropolis’ again has been reborn because they find new scenes here and there. It never stops and every time they always make a new score.”
Goethe-Institut Philipinen Program Coordinator Luisa Zaide also announced that there will be a screening of the new version of “Metropolis” with the UST Orchestra in celebration of the 400th year anniversary. The performance date however is “yet to be finalized.”
The ground breaking 1925 silent film classic “Battleship Potemkin” was also screened in London’s Trafalgar Square in 2004 with the Pet Shop Boys providing the live sound track. The event attracted 40,000 people and is the largest audience for an art film. Co quoted “…Potemkin’s” director Sergei Eisenstein, “He said, ‘Film for every new generation should be reinterpreted by new music,’ it sums up what we’re trying to achieve here in the Silent film festival.”
Tickets for the screenings will be distributed by the respective embassies and cultural agencies. Contact 527-2209 (Mylene Narciso-Urriza, NCCA) for Brides of Sulu; 811-0978 (Goethe Institut) for Nosferatu; 811-6155 to 58 (The Japan Foundation, Manila) for Akeyuku Sora; 892-4531 loc 143 (Embassy of Italy) for L’Inferno; firstname.lastname@example.org (Embassy of Greece) for The Greek Miracle; and 526-1482 (Instituto Cervantes, Manila) for Pilar Guerra. For other inquiries, contact 633-7851 loc.113 or log on to http://www.shangrila-plaza.com