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Silent Film Festival adapts to the time of COVID

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FOR the first time since its inception in 2007, the International Silent Film Festival is moving online, forgoing live music accompaniment and using original recorded scores from Filipino musicians instead.

The festival, touted as Asia’s first silent film festival, will run from Dec. 4 to 6 via www.iwatchmore.com and the 10 films from four countries will only be available at specific time slots.

From Japan come six animated shorts taken from the Japanese Animation Classics collection, digitized and subtitled in English by the National Film Archive of Japan (NFAJ). The six animated films include the oldest existing Japanese animation, The Dull Sword (1917), a four-minute short directed by Junichi Kouchi. 1917 is considered the birth year of domestic animation in Japan.

The Dull Sword tells the story of a samurai who tests the new sword he purchased from a swordsmith called “Dull Smith” by attacking a blind person.

The other Japanese Animation Classics to be shown are Burglars of “Baghdad” Castle (1926) The Animal Olympics (1928), Two Worlds (1929), Old Man Goichi (1931), and A Day after a Hundred Years (1933).

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The Japanese entries will be scored by the HJH Composers Collective. The group is composed of Hiroko Nagai, Jordan Peralta, and Harold Andre Santos, contemporary music composers with a diverse musical palette of pop, classical, folk, jazz, electronic music, and traditional Philippine and Japanese music. They frequently collaborate with other artists to create music for film, theater, dance, and visual arts.

The Japanese silent films will be screened on Dec. 4, 6 p.m.

From Italy come two films: The Silent Killer narrates a mother’s journey home amidst the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic. This story alternates with interviews with scientists, politicians, ordinary people, and COVID-19 chronicles from all over the world. The film is scored by Franco Eco. It will be shown on Dec. 5, 11 a.m.

At 6 p.m. on the same day, Italian film Malombra (1917) by Carmina Gallone will be shown. Directly inspired by a gothic novel set on the shores of the Como Lake, the film’s protagonist, Marina, goes to her uncle’s castle where she discovers a bunch of letters. The film will be scored with original music composed and performed by classical pianist Raul Sunico.

From France comes La Manoir de la peur (The Manor of Fear), a 1927 film by Alfred Machin.

This silent film noir narrates the story of a young man who investigates a series of crimes in his village. Michael Mark Guevarra, one the country’s top saxophone players, will be scoring this film. The film will be shown on Dec. 6, 11 a.m.

Finally, from Germany comes Metropolis (1927) by Fritz Lang on Dec. 6, at 6 p.m. The science fiction classic combines visual power with a love story around the reconciliation of labor and capital. Alyana Cabral (aka Teenage Granny) along with Kent Pesito, Miguel Nuñez, Jon Olarte, Joee Mejias, Tristan Ortega, and Kiko Nuñez will score the film.

Aside from the film screenings, the International Silent Film Festival will also be holding a webinar on film archiving on Dec. 4, 3 p.m. Speakers will include film archiving experts from Japan, France, Italy, and Germany and will be moderated by filmmaker and archivist Clodualdo del Mundo, Jr. The webinar is open to film institutions, schools, and the general public and those interested may register via https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_YdJxtJSeRdyiagGXwZNQdQ?fbclid=IwAR3wocC8pBgHHetr70O8JxsHrpYXBdruqdOtxM9VVM-p6dMGcAWNY7tI0Is.

The International Silent Film Festival is organized by the Embassy of France to the Philippines, the Japan Foundation Manila, the Philippine Italian Association, the Goethe Institut, and the Film Development Council of the Philippines, in partnership with iWatchMore.com. — ZBC

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