The silence of infidelity » Manila Bulletin Lifestyle

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Gym Lumbera presents Taglish in the 11th International Silent Film Festival

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By Rica Arevalo

The silent film era from the late 1800s to the early 1920s made use of live orchestra music to accompany moving images in cinema. It is magical especially for film buffs to see old films and hear the score interpreted by modern artists. For 11 years now, the International Silent Film Festival Manila (ISFFM) continues its tradition of showcasing silent films from Spain, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Japan, Austria, Germany, and the US and inviting local and international bands and musicians to play live music at the Shang Cineplex, Shangri-La Plaza. This year, the festival will run from Aug. 31 to Sept. 3.

Featured silent films are El Golfo (1918), Underground (1928), L’Inhumaine or The New Enchantment (1923), Una Famiglia Perfetta or A Perfect Family (2017), Hijosen no Onna or Dragnet Girl (1933), Cafè Elektric (1927), Pandora’s Box (1929), and The General (1926).

Family portrait

Family portrait

From the Philippines, Gym Lumbera presents his Taglish (2012) with the stoner-metal quartet Kapitan Kulam on Sept. 2, 8 p.m. The band members jamming live are Lourd de Veyra, Kaloy Olavides, Jay Gapasin, and Eric Melendez.

“Everything started with my Lolo’s infidelity with my Lola,” says the 31-year-old Lumbera. His grandfather sired 12 children, including Lumbera’s mother.  “My grandparents lived in Bicol before. He became a caretaker of a landed rich family in Batangas,” he recalls. “My Lolo became a kapitan and was called Kapitan Tagalog. In that faraway place, my Lolo committed his infidelity. My Lola accepted the situation wholeheartedly and even took care of my Lolo’s illegitimate child.”

Another chapter in Lumbera’s life is his own infidelity to his wife. “I kept it a secret and suppressed it.That how I started creating this film,” he confessed.

The Super 8 film shot in black and white is reminiscent of the early works of D.W Griffith and Serge Eisenstein. The film is not a visual feast but it made use of symbolisms relating to a married couple. One sees different family portraits on the wall, white linen and shirts and even a tampipi—a small personal “suitcase” carrying personal belongings.

Gym Lumbera shares a laugh with his Lolo

Gym Lumbera shares a laugh with his Lolo

Lumbera also discovered an old Super 8 projector at the back of his wife’s house. The reels were full of molds and decaying. He used the found footage in his film about a foreign family enjoying their time in a water park, paddling their boats.

The rural location was in Balete, Batangas overlooking Taal Volcano where Lumbera’s parents met, where he was born, and where he married his wife.

He is influenced by the short stories of NVM Gonzales.  “The spirit of rural life and the ghost of the past mirror his writing, very visual,” he says.

Why did he make this film?  “I wanted to understand my Lolo’s infidelity and to ask myself why I also have done this to my wife,” says the Ani ng Dangal awardee.  “Wala akong masabihan, wala akong makausap kaya binuo ko ang pelikulang ito bilang pagninilay sa kasalanan kong ginawa (I cannot express myself. I cannot talk to anyone. That was why I made this film–a self-examination of the sin I committed.” www.facebook.com/InternationalSilentFilmFestivalManila

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