L’INHUMAINE Helouise La Harpe

Helouise La Harpe (electric harp/vocals); The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

Written and photographed

By Jude Thaddeus Bautista

Beneath the flickering light of the screen, she sways. Moving slowly swinging her hips, arms, shoulders, in a smooth sexy rhythm…in high heels. Her eyes are on the screen above her, plucking the harp the way she plucks at men’s hearts. She moves to the music she makes, a sight to behold.

Helouise La Harpe (electric harp/vocals); The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

Even in the near darkness of the Shang Cineplex movie theater, we were all captivated with watching her. We would’ve been forgiven if we forgot there was actually a silent film we had to watch. The enchanting jazz music by Helouise La Harpe on the electric harp, Ryan Villamor (keyboards) and percussionist Aldous Castro was more than enough entertainment.

ALPAS performed their song ‘Bagani’ at the Atrium of Shang Plaza for the Musika X Pelikula a parallel event courtesy of PARA SA SINING, September 3rd 2017. The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

The fest ran from August 31 to September 3, 2017, featured a total of 9 Silent films from 9 different countries accompanied by esteemed musicians from the local scene. Opening the fest is EL GOLFO (1918) from Spain- Instituto Cervantes on 8 PM August 31 with music by TALAHIB.

from left: Japan Foundation Mla Dir. Hiroaki Uesugi, benshi Ichiro Kataoka, British Council Head of Arts & Creative Industries Malaya Del Rosario, British Council Dir. Nicholas Thomas, FDCP Chair Liza Diño, Spanish First Sec. Guillermo Escribano, US Emb Public Affairs Officer Matt Keener, U.S. Asst. Cultural Affairs Jeanie Duwan, FDCP Exec Dir Wilfredo Manalang, Austrian Emb Press & Cultural Officer Zelpha Bombais and PARA SA SINING Dir. Micah Pinto. The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

September 1st Anthony Asquith’s UNDERGROUND (7:30 PM) from the U.K.- British Council with music by GOODLEAF; THE NEW ENCHANTMENT (9:30 PM) from France accompanied by Helouise La Harpe. September 2nd A PERFECT FAMILY (3 PM) from Italy- Philippine Italian Association / Emb. of Italy with live score by TOM’S STORY; Yasujiro Ozu’s DRAGNET GIRL (5:30PM) from Japan – Japan Foundation with live narration from benshi Ichiro Kataoka and music by THE CELSO ESPEJO RONDALLA; Gym Lumbera’s TAGLISH (8PM) from the Philippines – FILM DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL OF THE PHILIPPINES with music by KAPITAN KULAM. September 3rd CAFÉ ELECTRIK (3PM) from Austria with music by RIVERMAYA; PANDORA’S BOX (5:30 PM) from Germany – Goethe Institut Philippinen with music by SANDWICH and Buster Keaton’s THE GENERAL (8PM) from the U.S.A with music from FLIPPIN SOUL STOMPERS.

 

Helouise La Harpe (electric harp/vocals); The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

The choice for Helouise La Harpe was actually perfect for the story of (English title The New Enchantment) L’INHUMAINE (1923) from FRANCE in more ways than one. The story involves Claire Lescot a captivating opera diva, played by Georgette Leblanc who was the most sought after beauty of her time. Her suitors were among the most powerful and famous men: A Maharajah – Djorah de Nopur (Philippe Hériat), an intellectual revolutionary – Wladimir Kranine (Léonid Walter de Malte) and the mysterious Einar Norsen (Jaque Catelain) who keeps his true profession away from prying eyes. The description of being inhuman comes in, as nothing these men did to please or capture her attention seems to satisfy her.

Georgette Leblanc (Claire) in France’s L’INHUMAINE (1923). The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

Percussionist Aldous Castro using The Hang; The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

Percussionist Aldous Castro had several instruments at his disposal to produce a lot of different sound effects. But one of the most unique is The Hang (‘the hand’ in Swedish/German). It looks like a giant wok inverted with circular indents. He is able to hit it with one hand and control the vibrations with the other. There are wide varieties of sounds it emits that contribute to the mood of the scene.

Jaque Catelain (Einar), Georgette Leblanc (Claire) in France’s L’INHUMAINE (1923). The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista (10)

In between scenes keyboardist Ryan Villamor would bark out moods and tempo. Among the silent film titles L’INHUMAINE had the feature of having different colored tints from shot to shot. Sometimes it would be sepia, green and of course the usual black and white. Cristina Moricca of PIA (Phil. Italian Association) shared a previous talk by cinema historian Nick De Ocampo. He said that these tints were an indication of mood for the scene, which was used in the silent era. Villamor also said that these indicators were quite helpful to the musicians. For modern viewers it could be disorienting, it takes some getting used to; imagine a feature length Katy Perry music video.

Scene from L’INHUMAINE (1923); The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

Directed by Marcel L’Herbier there’s a strong fantasy element to the film with elaborate sets. Claire’s home for example was palatial with pools and fountains complete with servants. In the story, Einar was so distraught by Claire’s perceived rejection he drives his car off the cliff. In spite of news spreading of the suicide, Claire decides to go on with her scheduled concert.

Spectators quickly became a mob in France’s L’INHUMAINE (1923). The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

The theater hall was filled with spectators, and after one rabble-rouser heckles her for the suicide (for being inhuman) the whole crowd turns and chaos ensues. Just as people were about to mob Claire she begins to sing. In real time Helouise La Harpe also begins to sing in French. The mob that was about to tear Claire apart was so moved by her voice they begin to calm down. The live audience in Shang Cineplex were similarly moved by Helouise’ jazzy, hypnotic voice. By the end of the song the theater was in a rapturous applause for Claire and trouble had been averted.

Helouise La Harpe (electric harp/vocals); The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

This was one of those cinematic moments that evoke a deep emotion and stays with you. Made all the more special by a unique live performance. It doesn’t matter that it’s from a French film from nearly a hundred years ago. You don’t have to know or understand everything. All you have to do is watch, listen, the way Helouise was feeling the story, the music, with her body just moving to it.

from left: Ryan Villamor (keyboards), Helouise La Harpe (electric harp) and Aldous Castro (percussion) played for France’s L’INHUMAINE (1923). The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

Apart from the electric harp and her sexy moves, Helouise saved her most emotional tool: her voice, until the climactic scenes, including one dialogue where she sang as Claire spoke of love. There was an incredible applause after the film as she enchanted everyone in the cinema.

Helouise La Harpe (electric harp/vocals); The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

from left: French Press Attaché Camille Conde, Helouise La Harpe, Aldous Castro, French Audio Visual Attaché Martin Macalintal & Ryan Villamor. The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

She is of French and Vietnamese descent. Her name is pronounced (with a silent H in the beginning) EH-LOO-WEES LA-HARP. Emb of France Audio Visual Attaché Martin Macalintal ‘discovered’ her while performing at the Makati Shang Rila Hotel’s French Week. He has earned high praises for acquiring her talents for the Intl Silent Film Festival Manila.

Ryan Villamor (keyboards); The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

We converged in our favorite bar downstairs BROTZEIT, which has German, European and a lot of unique beers on tap as well as the best German cuisine. This is where Ryan Villamor spoke of ‘controlled improvisation’. Each musician had instructions on the mood and sound for the sequences at the same time the element of jazz gave them space to improvise.

Artist Allan Cosio had an impromptu portraiture of Helouise La Harpe at Brotzeit. The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

Evidence of the power of Helouise’ performance, renowned abstract painter and portraitist Allan Cosio was so moved he gifted her with an impromptu sketch at BROTZEIT. He instructed Helouise to pose across the table. In a few minutes of strokes in charcoal he was able to produce a portrait that she warmly treasured.

Artist Allan Cosio had an impromptu portraiture of Helouise La Harpe at Brotzeit. The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

Cosio also happens to be the father of Ina Avellana-Cosio of the FDCP and Intl. Silent film Festival Manager. Ina’s grandfather on her mother’s side is National Artist for Film Lamberto Avellana.

All in all it was a magical night that started with controlled improvisation in the cinema and ended with an impromptu portrait session in BROTZEIT.

from left: Japan Foundation Prog. Coordinator Roland Samson, Patrick Pulumbarit, PIA Translator Cristina Moricca, French Press Attaché, Aldous Castro, French Audio Visual Attaché, ISFFM Mgr / FDCP Officer Ina Avellana Cosio and PARA SA SINING Dir. Micah Pinto. The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

 

scene from Anthony Aquith’s UNDERGROUND (1928) from United Kingdom. The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

UNDEGROUND from the British Council with GOODLEAF

Anthony Asquith’s UNDERGROUND may have been the most technologically advanced (as far as camera work) not just in this batch but from the silent era. The quality of the digital restoration also seems better than films of later eras in the 30s or 40s for example. I’m unsure how much of it was the restoration or the image quality the filmmakers were able to achieve. Whichever the case UNDERGROUND was certainly ahead of its time.

British Council Dir. Nicholas Thomas; The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

Asquith was able to build suspense and emphasize emotion through camera movement, even editing. This was not commonly utilized in most silent film. The underground station will seem very familiar to today’s audiences. Its mind boggling to think that the underground has celebrated its centenary and is still very much in use today as it was back then. The tunnels to the trains, factories, even the power plant shows a London that was the very first industrialized city/nation in the world; as noted by British Council Director Nicholas Thomas.

GOODLEAF played for United Kingdom’s UNDERGROUND (1928). The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

The very urban, industrialized theme of the film is perfect for the synth and electronic sound of GOODLEAF. Their sound is a rich combination of electronica and even reggae. This is a combination most commonly heard in the 1980s not unlike British band from the era: UB40. But GOODLEAF has its own updated twist with trip-hop and has their young fans that were also drawn to the screening. Their music gives the viewing experience of UNDERGROUND a more current interpretation that helps people today appreciate the film in a way they normally wouldn’t.

GOODLEAF’s Jolly Navarro (keyboards); The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

GOODLEAF from left: Cliff Pama (guitar), British Council Head of Arts & Creative Industries Malaya Del Rosario, Edy Varde (guitar), Marco Hautea (bass), British Council Dir. Nicholas Thomas, Ranjit Alabos (synth), Jolly Navarro (keyboards), Ryan Goan (guitars) and Jas Sonido (drummer- not in photo). The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

Ernesto Vilches in Spain’s EL GOLFO (1918); The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

EL GOLFO from Instituto Cervantes with Talahib

El Golfo from Spain on the other hand pulls on the heartstrings. Ernesto is a street urchin who turns his life around and makes good abroad. This is similar to the OFW stories here in the Philippines. The drama comes when he tries to win back his childhood love whose parents supported his education and success abroad.

Talahib’s Burn Belacho (flute/guitars); The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

The combination of the film with band Talahib was very successful. Talahib uses native instruments like the hegalong along with drums, guitars and chimes. So the original Filipino sound mixed with the Spanish film results in something unique but at the same time we’re used to since the Philippines is a product of all these influences.

TALAHIB from left: James De Vera (percussion), Banjo Agustin (guitar/vocals). The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista (30)

Spanish First Sec. Guillermo Escribano; The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

For Pinoy viewers the subtitles in Spanish had a lot of words in the Filipino language, so there’s that also that common bond. From everyday words like hijo, hija, noche, amigo to longer words like ignorante, origen, memoria, la muerte.

scene from Spain’s EL GOLFO (1918); The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

The band is composed of vocalist Janis Ann Añonuevo, Noel Taylo (percussion), Burn Belacho (guitar, hegalong), Mark Estandarte (bass), Domeng Molina (percussion), Jones De Vera (percussion), Darrel Roberto (drums) and Max Celada (percussion).

TALAHIB from left: James De Vera (percussion), Banjo Agustin (guitar/vocals), Jaime Hernandez (Artist Mgr), Burn Belacho (lead guitar/flute), Spanish First Sec. Guillermo Escribano, Karl Ramirez (keyboard), Max Celada (percussion), Inst Cervantes Cultural Affairs Head Jose Fons, Daniel Roberto (Drums) and LJ Pasion (bass). The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

Percussionist Max Celada is also a member of the esteemed theater group Tanghalang Pilipino along with partner Sheenly Gener. I was able to photograph the couple on the last day of the ISFFM in Shang.

Talahib’s Max Celada (percussion); The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

Sheenly however, was not able to catch Max’s performance with Talahib because she was shooting a film entitled SI APPLE, SI CHEDENG AT SI ELVIE. The Cinema One produced film has Gloria Diaz and Elizabeth Oropesa as its stars co directed by Rae Red and Fatrick Tabada. Sheenly can also be seen in the upcoming DORMITORYO in QCinema directed by Emerson Reyes.

from left: PDI writer Totel De Jesus, TP actors and couple Sheenly Gener and Max Celada also of Talahib. The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

TALAHIB played for Spain’s EL GOLFO (1918); The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

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French Cultural Counselor Yves Soberman; The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

Jaque Catelain (Einar) in France’s L’INHUMAINE (1923). The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

Aldous Castro (percussion); The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista (40)

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Talahib’s Daniel Roberto (Drums); The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

Talahib’s Burn Belacho (flute/guitars); The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

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GOODLEAF’s Marco Hautea (bass); The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

Best buds from left: Cyril Constantino, Roland Samson, Camille Conde and Dems Angeles. The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

GOODLEAF from left: Edy Varde (guitar) and Ryan Goan (guitars). The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

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scene from Anthony Aquith’s UNDERGROUND (1928) from United Kingdom. The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

GOODLEAF’s Ranjit Alabos (synth); The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

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Artist Allan Cosio had an impromptu portraiture of Helouise La Harpe at Brotzeit. The 11th Intl. Silent Film Festival Manila ran from Aug. 31- Sept.3, 3017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Entrance was free on a first come first served basis. Photo by Jude Bautista

WordPress:

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