Canadian Premiere: The Cave of the Silken Web - MulanIFF

China | 60 minutes | 1927 | Fiction | Silent Film | Live Music | Traditional Chinese and Norwegian Intertitles, with simultaneous interpretation in English

Canadian Premiere | Panel Talk and Q&A

Ticket: $15

This rare silent film The Cave of the Silken Web (Norwegian title: Edderkoppene “The Spiders”) was adapted from a well-known episode of the 16th century fantasy novel Journey to the West, one of the most famous Chinese literary classics. Buddhist monk Xuanzang (a real historical figure in the 7th century) travels to India with his three loyal disciples – the Monkey King, Pigsy and Sandy – to fetch some sacred sutras. Throughout their journey, they constantly encounter demons and evil spirits who believe that Xuanzang’s flesh would make them immortal. In this episode, a group of mesmerizing maidens lure Xuanzang into their cave and force him to marry their big sister (YIN Mingzhu, director Dan’s real-life wife), a femme fatale …

Produced by the Shanghai Yingxi Film Company, the film achieved unparalleled commercial success in 1927 China, and was then released in Oslo, Norway in 1929. For more than half a century, it was thought to be a lost film, until in 2011, an original nitrate print was miraculously rediscovered in the archives of the National Library of Norway. They preserved this cinematic treasure and returned it to China in 2014.

Panel Talk and Q&A with:

Tina Anckarman, Film Archivist at the National Library of Norway

During her ten years at the National Film Archive of Norway, Ms. Anckarman leads and manages film preservation and restoration projects, particularly those of silent films. A growing part of her work as a film archivist deals with the mission to disseminate the film collection, which leads to her various presentations at film festivals (Pordenone Silent Film Festival, Tromsø Silent Film Days et al.) and seminars (International Film Conference, Oslo; China Film Archive, Beijing; AMIA Conference; SEAPAVAA, Singapore et al.).

Before moving to Norway in 2009, she lived and worked in Denmark, first as a student at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, School of Conservation, Copenhagen, and later as a conservator of photography at the Danish Museum of Photographic Art in Odense, Denmark.

Bart Testa, Associate Professor, University of Toronto

Bart Testa is an associate professor (teaching) at the Cinema Studies Institute housed at Innis College. His courses cover a wide range, including courses on popular genres (Science Fiction in Film, Action & Spectacle) and sex in films, as well as an advanced course on Genres and Narration. He also teaches a year-long examination of avant-garde film and a full course on Chinese cinemas, graduate courses in film theory, and seminars on narrative endings, apocalyptic films and urbanism and film. He has conducted his course on Chinese cinemas in Hong Kong with the Summer Abroad Program (at Woodsworth College) biannually since 2002.

Testa has written two books, Back and Forth: Early Cinema and the Avant-Garde (1993) and Spirit in the Landscape (1989), journal articles and anthologized essays on diverse film topics, including avant-garde films and Canadian cinema. He co-edited and contributed to the anthology Pier Paolo Pasolini in Contemporary Perspectives (1994) with Patrick Rumble.

Christina Stewart, Assistant Media Archivist, Media Commons, University of Toronto Libraries

Christina Stewart is a film and media archivist at Media Commons, University of Toronto Libraries. A graduate of the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation at George Eastman Museum (Rochester, New York State), she has worked with collections at George Eastman Museum, the National Steinbeck Center (California), Northeast Historic Film (Maine), and the Canadian National Exhibition Archives. She has taught film preservation workshops through provincial archival associations across Canada and is also an instructor in the Film + Photograph Preservation Collection Management graduate program at Ryerson University. In 2016, Christina discovered a previously thought lost film by Herbert Blaché, Secrets of the Night (1924).

Musical Accompaniment

William WU Wai-Lap, veteran composer for film and television, and music educator

Born in 1937, Mr. Wu graduated from Beijing Normal University, and later taught at Beijing Film Academy and China Conservatory of Music from 1960s to 1980s. Since late 1980s, he has contributed tremendously to the film and television industry of mainland China and Hong Kong through composing for thousands of TV episodes, and over one hundred films including those made by veteran directors such as Johnnie To, Tsui Hark and Stephen Chow. His most acclaimed works include Justice, My Foot! (1992), The Tai-Chi Master (1993) and C’est La Vie Mon Cheri (1993). He won the Hong Kong Film Award for the Best Original Film Score for Tsui Hark’s The Lovers (1994).

This screening is made possible with the generous support of professor Bart Testa, as well as the Innis College Town Hall and Cinema Studies Institute, University of Toronto.

Special thanks to Mønochef, Toronto-based sound designer, DJ and music producer.

Image courtesy of the National Library of Norway

Latest Videos

Canadian Premiere: The Cave of the Silken Web - MulanIFF

Leaflet | © Mapbox © OpenStreetMap Improve this map