Since we launched SILENT|LOUD in 2013, cinematic concerts and silent film festivals have been organized at The Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro and Arena Carioca Dicró in favela at Zona Norte of the city. The live events of the series are expected to reach more than 20,000 people, including communities where access to culture, especially classical films, is limited or nonexistent.
In the early 1990s, downtown Manhattan’s Knitting Factory has been running a “Loud Music with Silent Films” series that featured masterpieces of world’s silent cinema with the live music by the most prominent experimental musicians John Zorn, Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot and others. Since then, similar events took place around the world.
First event of the new Brazilian series SILENT|LOUD was held on December 13th 2013 in Rio de Janeiro’s leading avant-garde venue Audio Rebel. It combined works from 1920s’, the most experimental period of Russian cinema, with today’s improvised live Brazilian music: Brazilian instrumental trio Chinese Cookie Poets (CCP) and Russian saxophone player Alexander Zhemchuzhnikov created live improvisational soundtrack.
Rio Times: The screenings always include introductions by prominent film critics and dedications to current socio-political causes. The Surreal World Cup edition in June 2014, for example, featured two dedications: Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian film director currently jailed in Russia and LOUD: Brazilian new music record label Quintavant.
“For me as a musician, making a live soundtrack for a film poses a sort of challenge,” Alexander Zhemchuzhnikov told The Rio Times. “I play mostly improvised music. When you play this kind of stuff you should pay close attention to what the others are doing, the result really depends on interaction. If you add video to this process, the things get really challenging. And challenge is what we need to evolve.
On April 10th, 2014 CCP and Alexander improvised to influential German expressionist film from 1920, Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (The Golem: How He Came Into the World) to continue the monthly series at Midrash, Jewish arts center of Rio de Janeiro. Narrative of Golem provides not only a philosophical parable of Jewish history in Medieval Christian Europe but a universal meditation on man’s promethean, yet vain efforts to control the nature and a metaphor of creativity.
Another installment of SILENT|LOUD on May 20th, 2014 featured Surrealist and Dadaist masterpieces Entr’acte (1924) by Rene Clair and Un Chien Andalou (1928) by Buñuel and Dali screened with live improvisation by Chinese Cookie Poets and Eduardo Manso (of Rabotnik). Films were introduced by Ruy Gardnier, film critic for O Globo and founder of Contracampo and Camarilha dos Quatro. Clique para Português
We opened the series of cinematic concerts last year with dedication to then jailed Pussy Riot who had their voices silenced. On May 20th, we will support religious and secular freedoms in Brazil. In a surreal decision by a Brazilian judge on April 28, 2014 Candomblé and Umbanda are not to be legally considered religions in Brazil anymore. Learn more what you can do to fight intolerance by supporting our Umbanda research project. This is our Dadaist resistance.
Typically only traditional styles of Brazilian music, such as samba and bossa nova are known overseas, leaving out most of the regional and contemporary genres (38 music styles are shown on 2013 musical map of Brazil by musicologist Raul Luna). SILENT|LOUD aims to highlight lesser known forms of Brazilian music while introducing best of international classical cinema.
CCP and Alexander Zhemchuzhnikov launched the series with Soviet silent cinema classics: Storm over Asia (Vsevolod Pudovkin, 1928), Kino-Eye (Dzyga Vertov, 1924), Bed and Sofa (Abram Room, 1927). Produced almost a century ago, these films are not only the masterpieces of the cinema with lasting influences; they also raise timeless issues that are still relevant in contemporary society: national independence, social justice and women’s rights.
Music of Brazilian instrumental trio Chinese Cookie Poets is an eclectic combination of brutal intensity and subtle harmonies, compositions and improvisations. The band leader Felipe Zenícola, told us that performing music for a film was his longtime dream. The trio was formed in 2010 by Marcos Campello (guitar), Felipe Zenícola (bass) and Renato Godoy (drums). After two EPs in the first year, they released the album Worm Love in 2012, with participation of renowned music producer, songwriter and guitarist from the US Arto Lindsay on one of the tracks. In April 2013 CCP released a new album in collaboration with Brazilian trumpeter Nicholas Lafetá. The band toured over ten cities in Brazil and Chile and recorded performances with such musicians as Polish composer Zbigniew Karkowski, Argentinean saxophonist Sam Nacht, Brazilian composer and performer Negro Leo and Swiss trio MIR. Russel Slater a chief editor of Sounds and Colours Brazil, the most comprehensive contemporary review of Brazilian music and culture, called CCP “arrhythmic rock, a cornerstone of Rio’s new experimental music scene.” He also referred to Alex Zhemchuzhnikov’s music as “throbbing Gristle-esque noise assault.”
Saxophonist Alexander Zhemchuzhnikov was born in Stary Oskol (Russia) and currently lives in Rio de Janeiro. Alex co-founded [Br]om, one of the first jazzcore bands in Moscow. Far From Moscow, Eastern European music review, described [Br]om as ‘extreme forms of improvisation to counter the oppressive nature of local experience..jazz nightmares.”’ Today he is a member of Brazilian avant-garde groups BIU, Bonifrate and Sobre a Máquina and his performances are known to mesmerize the audiences with noisy and grim walls of sounds.
Paal Nilssen-Love (The Thing), Felipe Zenícola (Chinese Cookie Poets), Alexander Zhemchuzhnikov (Sobre a Máquina) (2013):
Alexander has also collaborated with artists and bands such as Paal Nilssen Love, Eugene Hutz, Hype Williams and Eyal Maoz. His musical influences are ranging from free jazz of Peter Brötzmann and Evan Parker to folk music from the Middle East.
Chinese Cookie Poets and Alex Zhemchuzhnikov recordings are consistently featured on top 2012 and 2013 lists by Brazilian music journalists and bloggers.
‘These underground musicians in Rio de Janeiro are reimagining the Brazilian city ..the most exciting sounds to be heard in the city right now’ – Rafael Abreu, The Wire: Adventures In Modern Music
‘CCP and Alex represent new experimental and innovative trends in Brazilian music, contributing to avant-garde scene of Rio with new projects capturing more and more local and international audiences’ – O Globo
‘Chinese Cookie Poets is a cornerstone of Rio’s new experimental music scene.’ – Russel Slater, Sounds and Colours
‘Since its creation in 2003 the band brings nu-jazz the to Brazilian territories and enters into global urban music dialogs between new genres of music as one the leading bands of instrumental rock today.’ – Cruzeiro do Sul
‘The extreme dynamic range of electric instruments became necessary to keep up with the inevitable crescendo of the drama’- John Y. N. Cho, IMDB
The largest Brazilian newspaper O Globo wrote the following about Audio Rebel where the event took place on December 13th, 2013: “you enter an underground temple. Everything about the place is rebellious – the music, the ambiance, the crowd… In the land of samba and funk these small tribes hold the universe of indie music in Rio.” “With SILENT | LOUD we are developing international cultural exchange ,” commented cultural producer Daniel Furrer in the interview about the project to Voice of Russia in Portuguese:
Audio Rebel was crowded; the event attracted large audiences beyond CCP fans. Musicians were very inspired to play live interpretation of 50 minutes selections from the masterpieces of Russian cinema. There was a feeling of intense dialogue between the films and the music, with the audience immersed in total audiovisual experience. Guitars, percussion and sax transcended the sounds of human drama and nature.
When the show was over, people remained paralyzed by the powerful interaction of poignant and beautiful historical images and live music. Brazilians found silent Russian films exhilarating: many in the audience suggested to have dedicated screenings of the movies in their entirety. Fragments from the performance:
The performance followed by the encore that Chinese Cookie Poets dedicated to Polish experimental musician Zbigniew Karkowski. ” Let’s take a moment to honor great composer who unfortunately died today, whose crazy genius we had the honor of touching and breathing,”- said Felipe Zenícola, the leader of CCP. CCP performance with Zbigniew Karkowski (2011):
Aelita (1924) at Midrash, Rio de Janeiro, September 15, 2014. Press release.
producers | Ticún Brasil, Dozão, Quintavant
support | Desmonta, Toda Musica, Editora e Revista Kalinka, Observatorio de Favelas
concept, logistics | alex minkin, felipe zenícola, daniel furrer
music | chinese cookie poets, alexander zhemchuzhnikov
promotion | bernardo oliveira, elayne bione
art | luca masud, alexander zhemchuzhnikov
videos | irina khokhlova, tay nascimento, joão tavares
special thanks | roberta manaa, erlena dlu, irina patkanyan, audio rebel, midrash