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RPM Orchestra Scores 'Filibus: The Mysterious Air Pirate' Live at Orpheum Theatre May 8

by David Stevenson
Arts & Culture Music & Events David Stevenson May 6, 2022

Still image from “Filibus: The Mysterious Air Pirate,” 1915.

On Sunday, May 8, join Friends of the Orpheum Theatre and Downtown Phoenix Inc. for Filibus: The Mysterious Air Pirate, a 1915 color-tinted silent adventure film starring Valeria Creti, directed by Mario Roncoroni, and written by the future science fiction author Giovanni Bertinetti.

The film starts at 5:30 p.m. and tickets are $16 for adults and $11 for children 12 years and under.

This screening is the first of RPM Orchestra’s official 2022 silent film scoring residency at Orpheum Theatre, with the quintet returning again on Tuesday, Sept. 6, for another silent film accompaniment.

Phoenix’s RPM Orchestra is a proto-industrial Americana music quintet, best known for composing and performing original scores to accompany films of the silent era. Its sound is most identified with diese-lpunk music — combining elements of jazz, swing and bluegrass commonly heard in the early- to mid-20th century diesel era.

Still image from “Filibus: The Mysterious Air Pirate,” 1915.

RPM Orchestra also draws from the noise aesthetic of early industrial music, as interpreted through its own unique instrumentation and avant-garde composition style.

It’s a sound that works oddly well paired with silent films. As one fan put it after the quintet’s Orpheum Theatre debut in October 2021, “It’s not like you’re just watching a silent film (when RPM Orchestra is scoring), it’s more immersive, like being transported back to the era itself.”

Formed in 2009, the group began scoring silent movies two years later, with nearly two dozen titles now screened and scored in front of live theater audiences at venues like FilmBar, The Icehouse, Phoenix Art Museum, Jerome Indie Film & Music Festival, and more.

Still image from “Filibus: The Mysterious Air Pirate,” 1915.

In 2018, RPM Orchestra was awarded Best of Phoenix – Best Live Accompaniment, by Phoenix New Times.


About the film: Baroness Troixmonde, aka Filibus, the mysterious air pirate, commits heists then retreats to the safety of her dirigible airship. When an esteemed detective sets out on her trail, the prankish jewel thief begins an elaborate game of cat and mouse with him, slipping between male and female identities to romance the detective’s sister and stage a midnight theft of a pair of valuable diamonds.” A precursor to today’s gadget-driven thrillers, Filibus is noted by film historians for its pioneering use of lesbian attraction, genderfluidity, and science fiction motifs. This light-hearted adventure film is digitally remastered with English intertitles.

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