N: Benshi Performance on Sept 2

The 11th International Silent Film Festival Manila will be  held at Shangri-La Cineplex, Shangri-La Plaza from August 31 to September 3. To celebrate, The Japan Foundation, Manila proudly brings a rare performance by Japanese renowned benshi.

Silent films screened in Japan from the 1920s to ’40s were never completely silent. Katsudo benshi (活動弁士) or benshi (弁士) for short, deliver live narration that provide the audience everything — from commentary to translation. (s: Japan Times)

Benshi Master Ichiro Kataoka


Silent film narrator Ichiro Kataoka, accompanying Yasujiro Ozu’s silent gangster film DRAGNET GIRL (非常線の女 | Hijyosen no onna, 1933) on Saturday, September 2, at 5:30pm. To accompany Kataoka’s captivating live interpretations of the silent film, Celso Espejo Rondalla (CER), will perform their own original music score to give authentic Philippine flavor to the Japanese classical film.

Admission is free on a first-come, first-served basis.

Ichiro Kataoka is one of the best-known active professional benshi in Japan today. He has been narrating more than 350 silent films internationally. Having been invited to perform at festivals and special screenings around the world including but not limited to Australia, Belgium, Canada, China and United States. A star student of master benshi Midori Sawato, he is also a film and television performer, a voice actor for animation and video games. This is his first time to perform in the Philippines.

Accompanying the silent film and benshi is the CER, one of the Philippines’ world class string ensembles. Founded in 2002 by Maestro Celso Espejo, the group’s conductor and one of the pillars of the Philippine Rondalla. The CER is composed of three generations of outstanding rondalla players and have been invited to perform nationally and internationally.


Gangster film DRAGNET GIRL, is one of Japanese cinema’s masterpieces. The film is about a body guard committing robbery to help a subordinate in trouble and plans to make a getaway, but is confronted by his lover, a typist who by night inhibits the world of the yakuza. Kataoka will narrate the film in Japanese, and there will be subtitle of his narration in English. The movie will be presented in a rare 35mm and lasts 100 minutes. Kataoka will also briefly explain about the history of benshi and answer questions from the audience.