The sound of silence: ISFFM 2021 keeps the love of cinema alive

Published November 20, 2021, 9:02 AM

by Joe Priela

The silence still roars at 15!

Before all the detailed dialogue, roaring sound effects, and even 5D cinema that amplify our viewing experience, back in the “Silent Years” of 1910-1927’s, films only had picture and hold no synchronized recorded sound. A silent film follows a format invented in 1860 but it remained a novelty until around the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Fast forward to the present, it is with no doubt that silent films have retained their rather unique charm. At the very least, it still is a rich medium that tips its hat off to its provenance.

The International Silent Film Festival Manila 2021

Slated for Nov. 24 to Dec. 3, 2021, the Japan Foundation Manila, the Embassy of Italy with the Philippine Italian Association, Instituto Cervantes, the British Council in the Philippines, the Goethe-Institut, the Embassy of France, and the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) will present the 15th edition of the International Silent Film Festival Manila (ISFFM). This year, the festival will feature six classic silent films from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the UK, with nine short films especially produced by the Film Development Council of the Philippines to represent the Philippines, all accompanied by original musical scores from local bands and musicians. The program will be screened online through the FDCP Channel

Manila’s architectural Art Deco gem, the newly renovated Metropolitan Theater

To mark the 15th birthday of the festival, an opening ceremony will be held at the newly renovated Manila Metropolitan Theater, Manila’s architectural Art Deco gem built in the midst of the Philippine “Silent Era.” The invitational opening ceremony, hosted by the Japan Foundation Manila will be followed at 5:20 p.m. by the screening of 雄呂血 (“Orochi” or Serpent), a 1925 action film by Futagawa Buntarō, which will be live-scored by the band Munimuni. This is a cine-concert in pre-COVID style—in person, but in keeping with the health restrictions in force.

Munimuni band will live score the film ‘Orochi’ (Serpent) by Futagawa Buntarō (photo by Nukie Timtiman)

With the exception of the opening day, the program of this 15th edition of the ISFFM includes screenings and international round table webinars, which will be entirely accessible online from Nov. 25 to Dec. 3, 2021. Loyal to the very essence of the festival, all silent films will be scored with original music exclusively composed and performed by local bands and musicians.

Here is a glimpse of the entire online program.

On Nov. 25, at 3 p.m. Instituto Cervantes will screen “Carceleras” (1922) directed by José Buchs, followed by the first panel discussion at 5 p.m. that explores the theme “How to Watch A Silent Movie,” featuring speakers from by Spain, Italy, and Japan. The Philippine-Italian Association will cap the day with a screening at 7:00 p.m. of the silent film “Pinocchio” (1911) directed by Giulio Antamoro.

‘Pinocchio’ (1911) directed by Giulio Antamoro.

On Nov. 26, at 3 p.m. the British Council in the Philippines will screen “Dr. Wise on Influenza” (1919) commissioned by the Ministry of Health. The panel discussion at 5 p.m. will be about the “Restoration and Reinventions” in Film Archives presented by speakers from the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and the Philippines. Goethe-Institut Philippinen concludes the second day with the screening of “Das Wachsfigurenkabinett” (The Waxworks) (1924) directed by Paul Leni and Leo Birinski.

‘Das Wachsfigurenkabinett’ (The Waxworks) (1924) directed by Paul Leni and Leo Birinski.

On Nov. 27, at 3 p.m., the Embassy of France will screen “The Foreman,” followed by a masterclass at 5 p.m. that explores the history of Silent Films in the Philippines, presented by our very own Filipino speakers. Closing the third day will be done by the Japan Foundation, Manila with the screening of 雄呂血 (“Orochi”) (1925) directed by Futagawa Buntarō.

From Nov. 28 to Nov. 30, all on-demand silent films will be available on the FDCP Channel.

Dec. 1 to 3 will be dedicated to the screening of the nine short films produced with the very first edition of FDCP’s “Mit Out Sound International Silent Film Competition.” Nine Filipino filmmakers worked with nine film composers to produce short silent films that represent the Philippines in this year’s ISFFM. These shorts and their filmmakers are “Ang Tatlong Hambog” by Sari Kathryn, “Tianak” by EJ Gagui and Marienel Calma, “Alingasngas ng mga Kuliglig” by Vahn Leinard C. Pascual, “Ang Pagsuyo sa Paru-Paro ng Gabi” by Racquel De Guzman Morilla, “Dikit” by Gabriela Serrano, “Ha-Ha-Hambog” by Kate Torralba and Jopie Sanchez, “I Need More Than Tofu and Other Vegetables” by Hector Barretto Calma, “Putol” (The Cut) by Nikolas Red, and “Ang Pagdadalaga ng Dalagang Bukid” by Jose Carlos Soliongco.

ISFF 2021 official poster

The Festival will culminate with a closing night of the ISSFM2021, and the awarding ceremony for the best productions of Mit Out Sound.

For updates and inquiries, kindly direct to the official Facebook page of the International Silent Film Festival Manila.