Rivermaya, Sandwich join list of live scorers for 11th Silent Film Festival

August 31, 2017 - 11:49 AM
Marlene Dietrich in 'Cafe Elektric'. Right, members oF Rivermaya with drummer Mark Escueta's son, Pele. (Rivermaya photo by Jill Tan Radovan/InterAksyon)

Now on its 11th year, the International Silent Film Festival Manila (ISFFM) returns with an ever impressive film and artist lineup that includes some of the country’s most sought-after homegrown acts.

Coming off an extended break and back with a vengeance with a hard-hitting new single and an upcoming album, Rivermaya takes on yet another challenge as the band selected to provide live scoring for the film “Café Elektric.”

“Café Elektric” is an Austrian film about unrequited lovers whose lives intertwine at the eponymous cafe. It was produced by Sascha-Film, Vienna’s first ever major film studio. It stars renowned German actress Marlene Dietrich in one of her earliest performances.

As one of the most established bands in the country, Rivermaya is known for a distinct sound and discography that is loved and appreciated by most Filipinos. At the ISFFM press conference, guitarist Mike Elgar explained his band’s intended approach for the live scoring of the film.

“The Rivermaya catalog is medyo malaki ng konti. So we will most probably be getting snippets of some of our own songs and maybe some of the new ones that will be coming out next month. And of course we will be experimenting on arrangements, sounds.”

Drummer Ryan Peralta chimes in, saying, “We will actually be bringing some of our toys that we don’t usually bring in gigs, like electronic stuff, percussion. Definitely we will be doing some of the pop tunes and most of the obscure ones that we don’t usually get to play. This is the first time we’re doing this so we’re really excited. And it’s almost like jamming and watching at the same time.”

“Most of the songs will probably be instrumental,” volunteers Elgar.

Guitarist Mark Escueta expounds further. “Yeah, we’ve been talking about this for the past few days and looking back at all the songs that we’ve done, I think the priority will be the songs that were never released on radio and maybe just elements from certain songs. But the priority will be to support the film and just not to distract or take anything away from the film. That’s the bottom line.”

Bing Austria of Flippin’ Soul Stompers , Buster Keaton in ‘The General,’ and Tom Naval of Tom’s Story. (Bing and Tom photos by Jill Tan Radovan/InterAksyon)

Topnotch soul, funk, blues and Motown proponent Flippin’ Soul Stompers seem to be the perfect band to lay tunes to complement one of the most revered American comedies of the silent era, “The General.”

“Most of the sound we will be creating for the film will be original, will be new. We will probably put some familiar tunes. It’s an American film and soul music is American, although the film is form a different era — the 1920s. We’ll try to sound like the 1920s,” said Flippin’ Soul Stompers frontman Bing Austria.

Instrumental rock trio Tom’s Story, a rising indie act known for its spellbinding live performances and complex musical arrangements, is the obvious choice for to live-score “Una Famiglia Perfetta” or “A Perfect Family.”

Bassist Tom Naval tells us why. “Since our film is already very—how do I say this—parang roller coaster, an up and down of emotions. In the film of director Ruben, you can see it’s it’s kind of up and down. It’s actually surprisingly dark.”

Other films that will be screened during the festival are Spain’s “El Golfo,” to be live-scored by folk quartet Talahib; British film “Underground,” to be scored by dub act Goodleaf; France’s “The New Enchantment,” for which French-Vietnamese harpist and singer Heloïse La Harpe will create music; Japan’s “Dragnet Girl,” which The Celso Espejo Rondalla shall live score; homegrown feature “Taglish” to be scored by stoner-metal quartet Kapitan Kulam; and Germany’s “Pandora’s Box,” which will be live scored by one of the more seasoned acts in the roster, Sandwich.

The 11th International Silent Film Festival Manila kicks off tonight at 8:00 PM at the Shang Cineplex of the Shangri-La Plaza. It will run only until Sunday, September 3. For screening schedules and more info, visit the ISFFM Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/InternationalSilentFilmFestivalManila/