Yasujiro Ozu’s silent film ‘A Straightforward Boy’ to be screened at 2018 ISFFM

Yasujiro Ozu’s silent film comedy “A Straightforward Boy” will be screened at the 2018 International Silent Film Festival Manila (ISFFM) on September 1, 2018 at 6 p.m. at the Cinema 2 of SM Megamall in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines. Presented by The Japan Foundation, Manila, the screening will be accompanied by a narration by the first Filipino benshi Tito Genova Valiente.

“A Straightforward Boy” is about a man kidnapping a boy with an appetite for sweets. Unable to keep the boy under control, the kidnapper brings the boy to his boss.

The boy causes chaos and trouble that even the boss refuses to keep him. The kidnapper brings the boy back to where he found the boy, but that would not be the end of this strange kidnapping tale.

The original theatrical release of “A Straightforward Boy” ran for 38 minutes, but this copy was presumably lost. A 9.5 mm version which was sold as a format for home viewing was discovered in 1988 but this was incomplete due to degradation of the film reel. The version found in 1988 was a 14 minute-long movie and was shown at the 2015 ISFFM.

Screening this year is a complete and fully intact 9.5 mm Pathé baby version that was fortunately discovered just three years ago. This discovery is a 19-minute long film.

One of the important elements of the complete 9.5 mm version is the discovery of the opening sequence, including the top titles. The importance of the introductory sections to film works cannot be emphasized enough.

There is incalculable value to the world of film in finding the most important scenes that were crafted to draw the audience in. It is unfortunate that there is virtually no chance of ever discovering the original release version (35 mm) of “A Straightforward Boy,” given that approximately 90 percent of all silent Japanese films have been lost, and ultimately, it is beyond dispute that this is the best and most complete version that is in existence.

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