One of the films is Siliva Zulù (in English, Siliva the Zulu). I came across this via a splendid screening at the Watershed in Bristol on 1 November 2014, with a live accompaniment by Juwon Ogungbe, who had composed a new score for the film.
The film is a fascinating interplay of fiction and documentary - a sort of docudrama - with an entirely African cast shot by an Italian director, Attilio Gatti, an anthropologist, Lido Cipriani, and an Italian crew in Eshowe, South Africa in 1927. Some useful information about the filmmakers and the problematic production context of the film can be found here.
Photo from http://www.vitrotti.it/biografia.html.
I was particularly struck by the title cards. They are in English, and look of the period, though a colleague from Bristol Silents in the audience commented that they had more of a look of the 1930s than the 1920s. The title cards are distinguished by a series of line drawings, almost cartoons, which have a very contrapuntal relationship with the footage of the characters/actors. The live action footage has an apparent preoccupation with 'accurate' ethnographic representation, and frequently foregrounds the physical attractiveness of the characters. My memory of the cartoons, on the other hand, was that they have a comic and irreverent tone at odds with the rest of the film. If they were produced at the time of the film's original release then they constitute interesting evidence of the complexity of the attitudes of the filmmakers to their ethnographic subjects.
The images on the title cards have traces here and there of Italian language, suggesting that they were copied directly from the Italian print of the film while the titles themselves were redone in English. My understanding is that there are versions of this film extant with Italian and with Spanish title cards, which I look forward to running to earth during my archive trips.
I thought I would use this chance to try out Lantern, the search tool of the wonderful Media History Digital Library, in the hope of finding reviews of the film from the time of its release. It came up with two results, only one of which was a review, from La revue du cinéma of February 1928: