8 Movies We Think You Should Watch at the International Silent Film Festival Manila 2018

4. Tokkan Gozo (A Straightforward Boy – Japan)

Year: 1929

Duration: 19 mins

Director: Yasujiro OZU

Genre: Drama

Cast: Tomio AOKI, Tatsuo SAITO, Takeshi SAKAMOTO

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One of the famous scenes at Tokkan Kozo (1929)

Tokkan Kozo is the story of a boy named Tetsubo, who is kidnapped by Bunkichi, and has an appetite for sweets. Unable to keep Tetsubo under control, Bunkichi returns him to his boss, who refuses to take him back. He tries to dump him on his playmates, but he incites them to demand toys and other goodies from him.

The original theatrical release of Tokkan Kozo was 38 minutes long, but this was unfortunately lost. A version was discovered in 1988 but this was incomplete due to the degradation of the film reel. The version found in 1988 was 14 minutes long and was shown at the International Silent Film Festival in 2015. Screening this year is the most complete version that was fortunately discovered just three years ago, which is 19 minutes long.

Trivia: Characteristic of Japanese silent films is the presence of a benshi. The benshi provides information alongside the film to the audience to aid in the full appreciation of the silent film. The benshi can be said to act as a sort of “silent narrator” who acts as well, and is oftentimes more remembered than the actual film. This year, the Japan Foundation decided to have a Filipino benshi for the first time, who is no other than Tito Genova Valiente.

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Tito Genova Valiente, the Filipino Benshi

Tito Genova Valiente is a public anthropologist, film critic, and film educator. He took up his postgraduate studies in Anthropology in Japan and developed a course on Japanese Cinema in the Japanese Studies Program at the Ateneo de Manila University. He is a member of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, the oldest and the most prestigious film critics circle in the country, where he once served as its Chair, and has co-authored books on Japanese cultures in Asia and war memories. In 2015, he was awarded by the Union of Writers of the Philippines the Gawad Balagtas for Achievement in English essay.

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Musical score by Tanikala Tribe

To provide the music for Tokkan Kozo and the benshi is the Tanikala Tribe, a band hailing from Naga City, Bikol. The name of their band literally translates to “Chain Tribe”, which is a reference for their Contemporary Pop Folk/Ethnic sound. Albeit their distinct sound, the group does not stay away from upbeat music, ballad, and novelties. Their aim is “to spread love of all kind – love of nature, love of country and love of countrymen, and love for all humankind”. Tanikala Tribe is composed of the following members: Wowie Nabua on kubing, flute, kudyapi; Raul Badiola on tambol, chimes, bells; Jojo Peconcillo on acoustic guitar; and Russel Campillos on classical guitar.

3. Our Hospitality (United States of America)

Year: 1923

Duration: 75 mins

Directors: Buster Keaton and John G. Blystone

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Thriller

Cast: Buster Keaton, Natalie Talmadge, Joe Roberts

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Our Hospitality, one of the world’s first comedy films (1923)

Our Hospitality is a film about family feuds, starring and directed by Buster Keaton, one of the greatest US comedians in the silent film era. The film tells the story of a grown Willie who travels back to his family home after having received a letter saying he has inherited his father’s estate. On the train, he meets a beautiful young woman and falls in love with her. She invites him to dinner but he eventually realizes that she is the sole daughter of the patriarch Joseph Canfield with whom his family has been engaged in a long violent feud. He notices that the Canfield men won’t harm him while he’s in their home, so he plans to stay there as a permanent guest until he discovers that the Canfields are already after him.

Trivia: Our Hospitality is a film about family feuds, but in the film, Keaton was acting alongside his actual family. His love interest in the film is his wife, his dad is his actual dad, and his son is his actual son!

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Musical score by Brass Munkeys

Playing alongside the comedic film is the fitting Brass Munkeys, a group known for their lively and bold performances on stage. “Our music has been classified as blues, jump swing, even boogie”, shares the group’s drummer and band leader, Jayman Alviar. Jump swing, also known as retro swing, refers to the hyper-intense dance style featuring hopping and kicking. It is an up-tempo combination of rock, blues, and swing. Last year’s silent film festival had the whole theater getting up and dancing on their seats!

2. Frivolinas (Spain)

Year: 1926

Duration: 80 mins

Directors: Arturo Carballo

Genre: Musical Comedy

Cast: Ramper, José López Alonso, Juan Belmonte, Maria Caballé, Miguel Ligero, Felisa López, Blaca Pozas, Ramón Álvarez Escudero

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Frivolinas, a combination of a musical and dance show, in 1926

Frivolinas tells the story of a widower who loves nightlife and a comedian who falls in love with the old man’s daughter. It combines elements of musical and dance shows and was featured at a very popular Madrid theater in the 1920’s. It is a film that shows passion through the layers of life, and gives the audience a chance to appreciate Spanish culture and art in the 1920’s.

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Musical score by Tapati

Accompanying Frivolinas is live music by Tapati, a collaboration of artists embracing influences of rock, reggae, blues, jazz, pop, folk, and Philippine Neo-ethnic tribal music. Led  by Tapati, a performing artist and singer-songwriter herself, the group brings in the finest leading contemporary world music artists showing an alternative perspective of the Philippine culture.

1. Die Kleine Veronika (Austria)

Year: 1929

Duration: 70 mins

Directors: Robert Land

Genre: Drama

Cast: Käthe von Nagy, Maly Delschaft, Mizzi Zwerenz, Harry Hardt

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Die Kleine Veronika, the 1929 film, features places still famous to this day

Die Kleine Veronika tells the story of Tyrolean mountain girl, Veronika, who travels to Vienna to visit her aunt, only to find out that the city experience she has been dreaming of is not as fun and glamorous as she had imagined. Rediscovered and restored by the Austrian Film Archive, the film is prized for scenes that show the Tyrolean mountains and the still-famous Vienna Prater amusement park in the 1920’s.

This year, the Austrian Embassy partners with Hearlife Foundation, Inc., a non-stock, non-profit organization created to champion the Filipino deaf and MED-EL Philippines, affiliate of MED-EL WorldWide, Inssbrick Austria and a cochlear implant provider for 20 years in the Philippines.

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Musical score by Joee & I

The music for Die Kleine Veronika is scored by Joee & I, an avant-pop electronica solo project of Joee Mejias, a musician and a multimedia artist from Manila. Armed with a laptop, kalimba, bells and shakers, and a melodica, everything one would expect from an electronic act is here – looping riffs, unexpected twists and vocals that “stroke, smash, stomp, scream, and kiss”.

The International Silent Film Festival Manila was an initiative started in 2007 by Goethe Institut Philippinen, Japan Foundation – Manila, and Instituto Cervantes to celebrate the culture, history, and art of different countries and how these have contributed to the Philippines’ own culture through silent films. Renowned as the first and the oldest silent film festival in Southeast Asia, the International Silent Film Festival Manila brings together the past and the present by integrating live original music scored by Filipino artists alongside international silent films. Now on its 12th year, the International Silent Film Festival presents eight films from Spain, Japan, Germany, Italy, France, Austria, U.S.A., and our very own, the Philippines. The participating embassies and cultural institutions for this year are: The Film Development Council of the Philippines, Goethe Institut Philippinen, the Philippine-Italian Association, Japan Foundation – Manila, Insituto Cervantes, and the Embassies of the United States of America, Austria, and France.

The 12th International Silent Film Festival Manila runs from August 30 to September 2 at the SM Megamall Cinema 2. All films are of free admission, so don’t miss out on the chance to catch the first films that started it all, with live music sure to be enjoyed by all. (And don’t forget to use #ISFF2018 to spread the word!)

12th International Silent Film Festival Manila

August 30 – September 2, 2018

SM Megamall Cinema 2

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/InternationalSilentFilmFestivalManila/

Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/229835844494805/

For inquiries, contact Micah Pinto (Festival Coordinator) at +63917 513 6604 or