WHILE MORE than half of the Philippines’ film collection has been lost forever because of the country’s lack of technology in conservation and restoration, and also of the lack of foresight over the importance of intact films, which includes silent movies, the Philippines is still able to join the 12th International Silent Film Festival, which will be held from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 at the SM Megamall.
All the movies in the festival will be shown for free.
“We’re the most challenged country [in the festival],” Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) chair Maria Liza Diño-Seguerra said during a press conference on Aug. 14. She said the Philippines has lost three fifths of its films.
Unlike the Philippines, the other countries participating in the festival — France, Spain, Austria, Italy, Japan, USA, and Germany — have seen the value of restored movies and have funds for their preservation.
The goal of the FDCP, Ms. Diño-Seguerra said, is to put up a Philippine archive and preservation center, but she said the government is not very keen in supporting the endeavour.
As the FDCP chair, Ms. Diño-Seguerra has visited countries like Japan, Spain, and France to get ideas on how to preserve and conserve movies. Ms. Diño-Seguerra said there is a large collection of preserved Philippine movies in France — which is one of the movie pioneers in the world and which has advanced technology to preserve film — which the council hopes to get back.
Ms. Diño-Seguerra said the country was lucky to find a film entry for this year’s festival — and it isn’t quite an old film. The Philippine entry is The Lost Film Trilogy which is composed of the archival films Filipiniana, a 13-minute-long experimental clip; the seven-minute-long Aswang, a 1933 film by George Musser; and Juan Tamad Goes to the Moon (1898), which were reworked by Khavn dela Cruz.
Each movie in the festival will feature music that will be performed live to accompany the silent film. The Lost Film Trilogy will be accompanied by Khavn and the Kontra Kino Orchestra.
The other films are:
• Satanic Rhapsody (Italy; 1915-1917, restored in 2015), Aug. 30, 8 p.m. A star of Italian silent cinema, actress Lydia Borelli plays aristocrat Dame Alba d’ Oltrevita who is willing to make a pact with the devil to experience youth again. It will have a live musical score by Miles Experience band.
• La Passion De Jeanne D’Arc (France, 1928), Aug. 31, 9 p.m. The film covers the trial of Joan of Arc in 1431 where she was accused of heresy and was burned at the stake. The musical score will be performed by musician Dingdong Fiel.
• The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Germany, 1920), Sept. 1, 4 p.m. The film that helped introduced techniques like a twisted ending and which was dubbed as the “first true horror film,” the movie is about the mad doctor Caligari who is suspected of reawakening a corpse. The musical score will be performed by Kontra-GaPi.
• A Straightforward Boy (Japan, 1929), Sept. 1, 6 p.m. The film is about Tetsubo, a boy with big appetite for sweets, who was kidnapped, but, unable to keep him under control, Tetsubo is returned by his kidnapper. The original silent film was 38 minutes long but parts of it were presumed lost. The 14-minute 1988 was shown at the 2015 Silent Film Festival. This year’s screening is longer by five minutes thanks to an intact 9.5 mm version that was discovered. The musical score will be performed by the Tanikala Tribe.
• Our Hospitality (USA, 1923), Sept. 1, 8 p.m. A woman takes her baby boy, Willie, to New York after her husband is killed in a family feud with the Canfield. When Willie grows up, he travels back home after learning that he inherited his father’s estate. While on the train he meets a young woman and falls in love with her, not knowing that she’s the only daughter of the Canfield patriarch. The musical score will be performed by the Brass Munkeys.
• Frivolinas (Spain, 1926), Sept. 2, 5 p.m. The film revolves around an old widower who loves the nightlife and a comedian who falls in love with the widower’s daughter. The musical score will be performed by Tapati.
• Die Kleine Veronika (Austria, 1929). Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m. The film is about country girl who travels to Vienna to visit her aunt, but finds out that the Vienna she daydreamed about is not all about fun and glamor. The musical score will be performed by Joee & I.
The International Silent Film fest was established in 2007 by Goethe-Institute Philippine, Japan Foundation, and Instituto Cervantes. — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman