Was 1930s silent film set in Sulu a Filipino production?
The Philippine movie industry has produced roughly around 75 silent films between 1912 to 1933. Sadly, all of the titles are deemed to be lost forever due to the absence of any film preservation efforts, up until the 1970s.
The films were all made from highly combustible nitrate stock, and were believed to have been destroyed during fires, floods, and fighting during World War II. That’s why the Philippines has never been represented by any film during the annual International Silent Film Festival at the Shangri-la Mall. Until now.
But there is a dilemma. BRIDES OF SULU, credited as an American producton but shot in the Philippines with native actors, presents film historians with a conundrum. It’s not listed in any written accounts or filmographies as a Filipino film, although the country at the time of the film’s release was still a colony of the United States of America.
Nevertheless, assiduous research has uncovered some exciting information about the film’s provenance, and throws in some questions about the film’s real authorship.
Available on home video for the last two decades, BRIDES had been circulating in the U.S. film market, catering to collectors and aficionados of early American B-movies, genre cinema, and exploitation film fare.
Its distribution had been passed on from its original owner in 1934 – Exploration Pictures Corp., to specialist purveyors of B-movies Sinister Cinema and currently, Alpha Home Video. With each re-issue, the film’s year of release has kept advancing – from 1934, to 1936, to 1937.
While the home video release has sound, no dialog is spoken by any of the actors, as the film is narrated with an American voiceover.