Festivals in Romania: Cine-concerts return at TIFF 2023
Classics from the silent era of cinema, renowned musicians and composers, improvisation and traditional rhythms come together for three cine-concerts scheduled for the 22nd edition of the Transilvania International Film Festival TIFF, which takes place between June 9th and June 18th in Cluj-Napoca.
The series of cine-concerts opens with Manasse, a classic Romanian silent film recently restored by the National Film Archive, accompanied live by Volekh Quartet, on June 11th.
Directed by Jean Mihail, the film tells the story of a forbidden love between Matei and Lelia, two young people of different ethnicities, in a small town in eastern Romania at the beginning of the 20th century. Hailed as "the film of the year" when it was released in 1925, Manasse is a landmark in the history of Romanian cinema, daring to adapt for the screen a play that, just a decade earlier, had been withdrawn from the National Theatre in Bucharest amid nationalist and anti-Semitic protests.
Volekh Quartet is a Bucharest-based klezmer ensemble focused on exploring connections between the traditional Yiddish and Romanian-Romani music repertoires of old-world Wallachia and Moldova.
On June 14th, the public can attend the screening of a silent horror film set to original music and live accompaniment by musicians Stephen Horne and Martin Pyne. The Unknown is a 1927 cult film by filmmaker, vaudeville actor, and circus performer Tod Browning. Lon Chaney plays "Alonzo the Armless", a knife thrower who uses his legs to perform spectacular circus acts with Nanon, played by Joan Crawford. Alonzo, however, is no mere circus performer but a killer on the run from the police. In his quest to win the woman he loves, Alonzo is ready to give up everything and resorts to extreme measures to achieve his goals.
Stephen Horne has long been internationally considered one of the leading silent film accompanists and has been a house pianist at London's BFI Southbank for over thirty years. He has played at all the major venues in the UK, from Barbican Centre to Imperial War Museum, and recorded music for many DVD and online releases of silent films. Martin Pyne is a composer, percussionist and musical improviser who plays mostly vibraphone, drums and various other percussion instruments.
The third cine-concert combines one of director F.W. Murnau's films, Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931), with original music by composer Violeta Dinescu and a live performance by Trio Contraste, together with Dorin Cuibariu, in an event on June 16th.
Violeta Dinescu is one of the most important European contemporary composers. A member of the European Academy of Arts and Sciences in Salzburg (EASA) and professor of applied composition at the Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg, her catalogue includes pieces ranging from chamber music to silent film music.
Trio Contraste has been active for more than three decades, promoting contemporary Romanian music and giving first auditions of works written by distinguished local composers.
(Photo: Still from The Unknown, courtesy of TIFF)