Shakespeare compilation to open 10th Int’l Silent Film Festival

The British Council in the Philippines will be opening the 10th International Silent Film Festival this 25 August at Shangri-la Plaza with Play On! Silent Shakespeare, a 2016 compilation of Silent Shakespeare shorts from the British Film Institute (BFI) National Archive. Tago Jazz Collective will be doing a live musical score of the film.

Shakespeare compilation includes King John, the world’s earliest surviving Shakespeare adaptation released in 1899 and directed by William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson and Walter Pfeffer Dando. The compilation also includes extracts from early versions of Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Richard III as well as the cartoon parodies of Shakespeare’s plays by the British animation pioneer Anson Dyer—scenes from the earliest surviving Shakespeare adaptations on film with several titles untouched for decades. Play On! Silent Shakespeare, scheduled for a 19.30 screening on 25 August, pays homage to works of William Shakespeare, as the world celebrates the 400th anniversary of his death this 2016.

“We are delighted to take part in this festival for the first time and, in the year in which we are celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare’s life, to be able to share some historic early film adaptations of his work with audiences in the Philippines,” said Nicholas Thomas, Country Director of the British Council.

A still from King John (1899), the oldest surviving Shakespeare adaptation on film.
Still from The Tempest, released in 1908.

Dickson, one half of the production of King John, was a Scottish inventor who worked under Thomas Alva Edison and credited for the development of the 35mm format still in use today, by trimming and perforating Kodak Eastman’s 70mm film stock. Dickson was also known to have helped with Edison’s film productions, eventually producing some 500 films of his own. He is also credited to have produced the first-ever film with live-recorded music, dated 1894.

The International Silent Film Festival, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, will also be featuring films from eight other countries. Joining the film festival are the Philippine-Italian Association, the Japan Foundation Manila, Goethe-Institut Philippen, Instituto Cervantes, Film Development Council of the Philippines and the Embassies of the United States of America, France and Austria.

Still from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

To celebrate this important festival milestone, the participating countries will be holding a lecture and an exhibition on silent cinema as a way to further enrich the programme. The exhibition will open on 16 August at the Grand Atrium of Shangri-la Plaza which will illustrate the ten-year journey of this unique festival.

The festival will run from 25-28 August at the Shang Cineplex, Shangri-la Plaza. Admission will be open to the public on a first come, first served basis.

Join the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/131449097292205/

For screening schedules and other inquiries, please visit: www.britishcouncil.ph, or the official International Silent Film Festival facebook page: www.facebook.com/InternationalSilentFilmFestivalManila.

About TAGO Jazz Collective

Tago Jazz Café is the only jazz club in the Philippines today. They have hosted numerous foreign and local jazz artists and produced recordings for some of the country’s top musicians. This continuing collaboration is called “Tago Jazz Collective” where musicians showcase their skills through live performances. For the International Silent Film Festival, Tago Jazz Collective presents a quartet consisting of Pete Canzon (saxophone and flute), Ryan Villamor (keyboards and harp), Bergan Nuñez (bass) and Nelson Gonzales (drums). Pete Canzon is a living legend and has been in the music industry for over three decades. Ryan is a devout jazz pianist who is also a Harp Therapy Practitioner Intern, playing music for the sick. Bergan is a versatile session bass player who has played with artists such as avant-garde Swiss drummer Christian Bucher. Nelson is an adaptive drummer and can play across the genres of jazz, funk, to heavy metal.

Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard stars in ‘Macbeth’

Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard stars as Lady Macbeth opposite Academy Award nominee Michael Fassbender in this year’s thrilling interpretation of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” The movie wherein Fassbender plays the title role is the story of a fearless warrior and inspiring leader brought low by ambition and desire.

Set in war torn Scottish landscape, following a fierce battle in which Macbeth (Fassbender), Thane of Glamis and loyal general of King Duncan’s (David Thewlis) forces, has finally killed Macdonwald, a traitor and leader of rebel forces, he and fellow soldier Banquo (Paddy Considine) encounter three women scavenging among the fallen soldiers, who foretell that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland, while Banquo will be the father of future kings. Both men are unnerved by the prophecies but for the moment appear not to believe them.

marion cotillard and michael fassbender _ MACBETH

At Inverness, a letter from Macbeth arrives, informing Lady Macbeth of the prophecy. Lady Macbeth (Cotillard), who has not seen her husband over the long years of war and is grieving the loss of their only child, feels the seed of an idea grow in her mind. She plans for her husband to kill King Duncan so that they can assume the throne. Macbeth is at first reluctant to do harm to Duncan, but Lady Macbeth’s persuasion and Duncan’s announcement that his callow son Malcolm will succeed him spur him to act. After feasting and drinking liberally, Duncan retires to bed, unaware that Lady Macbeth has drugged his guards.

Macbeth, taking advantage of the confusion and grief caused by Duncan’s death, and marshalling his popularity amongst the people, is crowned King of Scotland. Banquo, however, has suspicions of his own based on their encounter with the prophetic women. Unable to trust anyone, and increasingly drawn down the path of tyranny, Macbeth begins to kill any who he fears might oppose him.

Lady Macbeth, meanwhile, has been slowly driven mad by her guilt in the wake of killing Duncan and the realisation that she has lost her husband forever to darkness, just like she once lost a child. Unable to escape her grief, and unable to make any connection with the husband she loves so much, she returns to Inverness and dies consumed by visions of her dead child.

Marion Cotillard signed up to play the crucial role of Lady Macbeth, despite English being a second language. “I knew that one day I would play Lady Macbeth,” says Cotillard, noting the special connection she’s always felt to Scotland and this particular play. Acclaimed director Justin Kurzel says Cotillard worked hard to learn the Shakespearian language despite the language barrier. “It was huge for her in terms of how foreign the verse was,” he notes.

michael fassbender and marion cotillard MACBETH

“I couldn’t miss this opportunity to play this character in English,” she concurs. “We all worked with Neil Swain on the language, who is much more than a dialogue coach, he’s a Shakespeare expert. Our work with him was about going deep into Shakespeare’s world, and it was about more than just finding the right accent, rhythm and energy.”

“I think in the end you’ll have great empathy for both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth,” notes producer Laura Hastings-Smith. “Obviously they do terrible things, which can happen even to good people, but I think you come to understand the tragedy of that in a very human sense with this film.”

“Macbeth” opens in cinemas this January 13, 2016 from Pioneer Films.

Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard paired in ‘Macbeth’

William Shakespeare’s most popular play “Macbeth” is adapted anew with powerful performances by ace actors – Academy Award nominee Michael Fassbender in the title role and Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard as Macbeth’s wife.

One of the greatest tragedies ever created, the latest “Macbeth” movie is directed by highly-acclaimed director Justin Kurzel. From the producers of “The King’s Speech” comes the story of a fearless Scottish General, Macbeth (Fassbender), whose ambitious wife (Cotillard) urges him to use wicked means to gain power of the throne.

Macbeth

As relevant as today’s world issues on politics and abuse of power, “Macbeth” is a thrilling interpretation of one of Shakespeare’s most famous and compelling characters, a reimagining of the realities of war-torn times and a tale of all-consuming passion and ambition.

Teeming with blockbuster battle scenes and superbly powerful performances by the lead and supporting cast, “Macbeth” is produced by Academy Award® winners Iain Canning and Emile Sherman of See-Saw Films (“Shame,” “Tracks,” “Mr. Holmes”) with Laura Hastings-Smith (“Hunger”).

Of all of Shakespeare’s classic works, Macbeth must surely be amongst his most famous. Certainly, in the more than 400 years since its first publication, it has been one of the most frequently adapted; revived regularly on stage and re-envisioned time and again in the age of cinema and television. The tragic tale of a Scottish general haunted by his own ambition, and a prophecy that he will one day become King of Scotland, has long fascinated actors, directors and audiences, and on the big screen has led to adaptations by directors from Orson Welles to Roman Polanski.

But with a new generation of British actors commanding the stage, as well as screens big and small, producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman of See-Saw Films felt the time was right for a new approach to Macbeth. “You’ve got actors such as Tom Hiddleston and Jude Law playing the leads in Shakespeare plays,” notes Canning.

“And I think it’s interesting to see this new wave come in and reinterpret the plays – discovering again what they mean.”

MACBETH

The timing was right from a topical point of view too, with greed, and its effects, on the agenda more than ever before. Notes Jack Reynor, who plays Malcolm: “Greed is a really terrible thing that can corrupt on a monumental scale, and it can destroy people’s lives. So the story of Macbeth is particularly poignant when you take into account the economic climate of the past few years.”

The filmmakers felt that the globalised nature of the world today offered an opportunity to increase the scope of the story on the big screen and give Macbeth a modern feel. “What I think has been very strong in this adaptation is the sense of community and the wider world that exists around these characters,” Canning notes. “We’ve expanded the idea that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth exist within a world, that they were a product of it and that their actions affected it. We’re exploring the story from a much more modern, cinematic place.”

michael fassbender and marion cotillard MACBETH

For his part, Fassbender, who has fast emerged as one of the world’s most accomplished and popular actors, immediately saw the potential in a new adaptation of the play. “It was comprehensively engaging,” he says of his attraction to the project. “It’s an amazing piece of writing and you’ll only get one chance to do it. So I tried to be as well-prepared as I could be and making sure I uncovered every stone so that you’re not leaving anything wanting at the end of the day.”

“Macbeth” opens in local cinemas this January 13 from Pioneer Films.

MACBETH poster