Written and Photographed
By Jude Bautista
The International Silent film fest has always been known for the soundtracks being scored live by Pinoy musicians like RAZORBACK, SINOSIKAT from previous years and drawing large audiences in the process. This year will be something special as French pianist Hakim Benthchoula-Golobitch will be one of the performers.
French Audio Visual Attaché Martin Macalintal said, “Benthchoula is of Algerian descent although of course he is French national. He studied in the Conservatory of Paris. He’s been awarded scholarships and grants in different prestigious festivals and piano competitions in Europe. And he had accompanied many silent films VISION D’HISTOIRE is one of his latest projects. This festival is a wonderful event that not just shows cultures from different countries but most of all the collaboration and the talent of Filipino musicians.”
The renowned French Pianist will provide live scoring for VERDUN: VISIONS D’HISTOIRE (Verdun:Versions of History) in the 8th Edition of the International Silent Film Festival to be held at Shang Cineplex, Shang Rila Plaza Mall from August 28-31, 2014. The screenings are free and open to the public on a first come first served basis. Every year there are long queues so make sure to check listings and schedules.
USA-CITY OF LIGHTS starring Charlie Chaplin with RADIOACTIVE SAGO PROJECT (Aug 28), Germany-DER MÜDE TOD (Destiny) with MANILA COMPOSER’S LAB in cooperation with Dr. Pierre Oser (Aug 29), France-VERDUN: VISIONS D’HISTOIRE (Verdun:Versions of History) with pianist HAKIM BENTCHOULA-GOLOBITCH (Aug 29), Italy-MA L’AMOR MIO NON MUORE! (Love Everlasting) with Caliph8 & Soprano Fame Flores (Aug 30), Japan- CHUJI TABI NIKKI (A Diary of Chuji’s Travels) with KAAPIN (Aug 30), Spain- CURRO VARGAS with GLASS CHERRY BREAKERS (Aug 31), Philippines- ANG TIGMO SA AKING PAGPAULI (Riddles of my Homecoming) with KALAYO (Aug 31).
Benthchoula has received the gold medal for piano at the National Conservatory of Toulouse. He has been awarded in international competitions and the Mozart Henessy Scholarship. He specializes in French music and has worked with contemporary composers, to perform in solo recitals or chamber music concerts. He has accompanied Judex by Louis Feuillade as his first silent film, then played the sound- track for GRIBICHE by Jacques Feyder, SAFETY LAST with Harold Lloyd, and VERDUN: VISIONS D’HISTOIRE by Léon Poirier.
France was absent the last two years and has been missed by audiences. Macalintal said, “I would like to thank our co organizers for welcoming France back to the Festival. I have heard that France has been missed in the past editions. There is a real partnership with Shang Rila Plaza Mall and I’d like to thank them for that.”
Speaking about the film, “ We are very privileged to bring to the Philippines a film that was restored last year in commemoration of the 100 years of the First World War. Verdun is one of the key battles of the First World War, which ended with an armistice in 1918. After that in 1928 the director Leon Poirier decided to make a film to recreate the Verdun Battle.”
The silent film may have also been an early form of what people see today as the docudrama with an added realism, “It is some kind of reenactment of the battle. What is symbolic about this film is the actors he got were actual soldiers in the battle. You can just imagine the emotions of these actors when they reenacted the actual fighting in the trenches. The film has been restored, remastered by the Cinematheque of Toulouse. The French agency to promote culture is sponsoring the French pianist accompanying the film. He is touring along with this film all over the world. We are going to be very privileged to have him in the Philippines.”
The renowned pianist was actually born in Algeria but is now French citizen. Macalintal was also able to explain the deep relationship of the two nations, “Just to go back to history the independence of Algeria is directly related to the creation of the 5th Republic of France up to now exists. France’s constitution today is still that of 1958. That’s strongly related to the independence movement in Algeria. In LA GRAINE ET LE MULET (The Secret of the Grain) actress Hafsia Herzi, from the French Film fest is also of Algerian Descent playing a Tunisian. That North African, Mediterranean influence is ever present in France.”
Turkey is another Mediterranean country that has immigrants in Italy. The MOVIEMOV Italian film festival also held in Shang Plaza had a Turkish director. Opening film ALLACCIATE LE CINTURE (FASTEN YOUR SEATBELT) was directed by Fernan Ozpetek. Officer for the Promotion of Italian Language and Culture Prof. Emanuela Adesini explained, “The reason why Ozpetec has chosen Italy instead of Turkey and has become an Italian director as a matter of fact. In Italy he has found freedom. He is gay and his films have that theme. He experienced many problems in Turkey other reasons are political. He found freedom and liberty in Italy that is why he has chosen to stay and work. He has an actress that always cast also from Turkey. She has also chosen Italy for political reasons.”