Next week sees the start of the Philippines’ 3rd International Silent Film Festival, the festival of classic silent films from around the world accompanied by Philippine music. The festival runs 30 July to 27 August, with screenings every Thursday at the Shang Cineplex Cinema 1, Shangri-la Plaza, Mandaluyong City. The festival is organised by the Goethe-Institut, Instituto Cervantes, Japan Foundation and the embassies of France and Italy in partnership with the Shangri-la Plaza.
Here is this year’s screening schedule:
JAPAN: JIROKICHI THE RAT (Oatsurae Jirokichi Koshi)
directed by Daisuke Ito, 1931
Music by Kalayo
The story was adapted by Ito from a novel written by Furukawa Eiji based on the life of Nezumi Kozo (The Rat), a notorious burglar active during the early 1800’s (the end of the Edo Period). Nezumi Kozo won great fame for his daring adventures stealing from the homes of wealthy people late at night. Eventually he was captured and executed in 1835.
The film follows Jirokichi as he leaves Edo for Osaka to get away from the police. Along the way he meets Osen, a young woman forced into prostitution by her older brother. Although Osen falls for Jirokichi, his heart goes out to Okino, a poor girl from a fallen samurai family. Jirokichi learns that it was he himself who brought about the collapse of Okino’s family when he robbed a rich feudal lord back in Edo. Nikichi, Osen’s older brother, has got his own plans for Okino.
ITALY: THE MECHANICAL MAN (L’uomo meccanico)
directed by Andre Deed, 1921
Music by Caliph8 with Kalila Agilos, Malek Lopez, Pasta Groove and Tad Ermitaño
A city is gripped in terror as a colossal robot runs rampant in an unstoppable crime spree. The police are powerless in the face of the frightening carnage and destruction, but the remotely controlled menace may soon meet its match – a second mechanical man is sent to confront it in a horrific showdown at the local opera house.
This ultra-rare, nearly forgotten silent horror epic from the dawn of Italian cinema was long considered lost. Some reels of the Portuguese release version were discovered in Brazil. The discovered film amounted to 740 meters which is believed to be approximately 40% of the complete film. Though missing much of its original footage, this historic work is still a striking and powerful piece of early fantasy film-making featuring one of the few directorial efforts by André Deed, a protégé of Georges Melies, the godfather of cinema magic.
GERMANY: PEOPLE ON SUNDAY (Menschen am Sonntag)
directed by Robert Siodmak, 1929/30
Music by Nyko Maca + Playground
A summer day in Berlin, 1929: With unpretentious humor this astonishing first film by artists who were soon to become Berlin exiles deals with how the working class spends its precious leisure time. Berlin is as empty as a ghost town, everyone flees to the countryside, the train stations are packed. Erwin, a taxi driver, meets up with a young traveling salesman and his female companions, who are on their way to a nearby lake for a day of swimming, snoozing, and flirting, leaving the cabbie’s wife to sleep away her Sunday.
Billed as a ‘film without actors’, each of the on-screen participants effectively played themselves and returned to their day jobs once production had concluded. The film is the early collaboration of five young Berlin-based filmmakers – Robert and Curt Siodmak, Billy Wilder, Edgar G Ulmer, Eugen Schuefftan and Fred Zinneman – who would all go on to great international success. Produced with little financial assistance, it made film history as the avant garde precursor of poetic realism.
SPAIN: THE CURSED VILLAGE (La aldea maldita)
directed by Florián Rey, 1930
Music by Johnny Alegre AFFINITY
A story about poverty, honor and forgiveness in a small Castilian village, during a time when women had no rights at all to live their own life without the protection of men. It depicts a dramatic experience of the capabilities of the human mind in a time that the concept of honour was completely determined by the grade of submission of your wife.
Juan Castilla lives with his wife Acacia and their child, and with the boy’s blind grandfather, Martin. Juan got imprisoned for quarrelling with the local political tyrant and usurer, Lucas, during a crisis. Magdalena, the neighbour, convinces Acacia to leave the impoverished town that seemed to have a curse on it. Three years later, Juan finds his wife working in a pub. He obliged her to return home and to serve the family until the death of the sick grandfather Martin.
FRANCE: FANTOMAS: UNDER THE SHADOW OF THE GUILLOTINE (Fantomas: A l’ombre de la guillotine)
directed by Louis Feuillade, 1913
Music by Corporate Lo-fi
Feuillade presents to us the character of Fantomas through a series of dramatic episodes: the robbery of the Royal palace Hotel, the successive transformations of Fantomas, and the substitution of the actor Valgrand. The masked hero is presented as a cruel being. We discover the mistress, Lady Beltham, accomplice and victim of Fantomas, then the obsessive inspector Juve introduced as her best enemy.