Motion Artwork Sans Sound: the 8th International Silent Film Festival

"Moving pictures need sound as much as Beethoven's symphonies need lyrics" - Charlie Chaplin

The silent film comedy actor extraordinaire Charlie Chaplin couldn't be more apt. There's a good reason film as an art form was celebrated in the early 1900's through silent films, aside from the technological limitations of film-making at the time. 

Silent films tend to stretch the artistry of the actors, the production team and the directors so much so as they were able to convey a plethora of emotions through moving pictures sans sound. A tough feat hence, silent film-making is a sophisticated art form in itself.

Last week, our movie gang went to Shangri-La Plaza to watch the 8th edition of the Manila International Silent Film Festival for the first time! 

Photo from Shangri-La page in Facebook
This year's installation is still one-of-a-kind in Asia as it is not replicated in other countries yet. The festival featured silent films from the early 1900's from countries such as the US, Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan, France, and of course from the Philippines.

The film is rolled with accompanying live music from local and international musicians to provide the score. The event happened on the 28th to the 31st of August, and we decided to watch the entries for August 30th. 

Kat and I are really excited to try this!

This event was free and followed a "first come, first served" entrance arrangement.

The cinema was truly packed with movie goers.
We were able to watch 2 films that day - Ma L'amor Mio Non Muore! (Love Everlasting) from Italy and Chuji Tabi Nikki (A Diary of Chuji's Travels) from Japan. Love everlasting was accompanied by the group Caliph8 while A Diary of Chuji's Travels was accompanied by Kaapin.


Ma L'amor Mio Non Muore! (Italy)
Love Everlasting was initially shown in 1913 and was directed by Mario Caserini. Its cast include Lyda Borelli, Mario Bonnard, Camillo de Riso, and Maria Caserini.

Welcoming remarks from Italy's Ambassador to the Philippines.
The Italian film: Love Everlasting.
The movie screen with Caliph8 at the bottom for live sounds.
Caliph8 collaborates with Fred Sandoval, Paolo Garcia, and Fame Flores for the live music.
It is basically an Italian silent movie of the diva film genre. This is where the female protagonist is depicted in slow moving melodrama with her suffering. This is a coming-of-age film for Lyda Borelli, this film's female lead as this inseminated her long and prolific acting career in this genre.

Lyda was pretty good with lots of her theater background coming to the fore with her exaggerated face and arm gestures. She also wore elaborate costumes that at her time set the trend for fashion and hairstyle. 

All in all the film was dragging and, it just must be me, but the live score provided was disjointedly too electronica for the film.


A Diary of Chuji's Travels (Japan)

The next movie we watched was A Diary of Chuji's Travels which is one of the best silent films we watched.  We actually liked this better than the Italian one. 

The film was obviously more advanced in cinematography, utilizing color lenses (in chrome, blue and magenta) to depict scene changes. You can easily follow the story as well as narration sequences are more frequently shown than the first.

We were also amazed at the depiction of Honor in this film. Also noteworthy was the improving position of women in Japanese society, as the film featured a heralding and strong female character who was a heroine to counterpart the main male lead character.

It was first released in 1927 and was written and directed by Daisuke Ito. The cast include Denjiro Okochi, Naoe Fushimi, Ranko Sawa, Hideo Nakamura, and Kichiji Nakamura.

Welcoming remarks from the Director of Arts from the Japanese foundation.
My favorite character, the honorable Chuji!

Watching the Silent Film Fest for the first time was a lovely experience and opened our eyes to the precursors of the movies in the silver screen as we know it.

To everyone who are interested to catch the Silent Film Festival next year, please feel free to visit the Shangri-La Plaza Facebook page today for future festival schedules!

Note: We consider ourselves temperate supporter of the arts without calling ourselves rabid art aficionados. Since silent films and art films still fall on the category of Art, we decided to write our thoughts on these too in this blog. Feel free to comment. We're delighted to hear from you too. 

Love, 

Eric and Jacq 

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