Monday, May 24, 2010

San Francisco Silent Film Festival 2010 - Program Announcement!!

I was fortunate enough to attend the Press Conference and Program Announcement for this year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival -- One of the HIGHLIGHTS of my film going year here in San Francisco!!

It was a comfortable and welcoming reception (catered fabulously by Poesia and Milette!) in which the festival staff (all four of them - HOW do they do it?!) were exceptionally accessible and excited to talk about this years program.

What I am personally excited about are two screenings. Firstly, METROPOLIS, which has been recently restored to within just 6 minutes of its reported, original screening length! Plus, it will be accompanied by none other than the Alloy Orchestra, whose present score for the film is wonderful and I can't wait to hear how they have expanded their work. Alloy Orchestra will also be present to perform with one of their standards: MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA (the program notes of which will be provided by Brian Darr, who is sure to reveal some true nuggets of trivia about this hypnotic classic).

There is just a bit of consternation in the local filmgoing community that this will be a digital print. However, KINO is releasing it only in that format. The rest of the program will be in glorious and shimmering celluloid!

The other program that I am really jazzed about is HAXAN: THE HISTORY OF WITCHCRAFT, which has something of a cult following, and I have only previously seen in a terribly rough VHS copy, which had obviously been copied and passed around. (Oh, and I may have been in an intellectually "altered" state of consciousness!) Its screening in San Francisco promises to be of a restored print and accompanied by Matty Bye Ensemble, who I am not familiar with.

From the reception, another very unusual film that I have no exposure or knowledge of was announced as the Closing Night feature: L’heureuse mort, directed by Serge Nadejdine and featuring a cast and crew of Russian emigre's working in France. (A full description is below.)

As you can see in the program as described below, this is probably the Festival's most eclectic program of features to celebrate its 15th anniversary.


Press Notice May 24, 2010

For Immediate Release


We are thrilled to announce the complete program for the 15th Annual SILENT FILM FESTIVAL, July 15-18, 2010. We celebrate this special anniversary with an added day, more programs, and more music!

Special programs include our inaugural music program - Variations on a Theme: Musicians on the Craft of Composing and Performing for Silent Film - with all of the festival musicians participating. This not-to-be-missed program will be moderated by Chloe Veltman, regular contributor to the New York Times.

Among the many luminaries who will grace the Castro Theatre stage for this festival are Kevin Brownlow and Patrick Stanbury, the forces behind the inimitable Photoplay Productions of England. We are proud to present the Silent Film Festival Award to Brownlow and Stanbury at the screening of THE STRONG MAN, a delightful comedy from Photoplay favorite Frank Capra.

The Silent Film Festival is lucky to have the support of the family of Hollywood legend William Wyler. And luckier still that the wonderful Leonard Maltin will be here for an on-stage interview with the Wyler children before we show their father’s superb boxing drama THE SHAKEDOWN.

We are excited that Pete Docter (Up, Monsters, Inc.) will be presenting his Director’s Pick of Arbuckle, Keaton, and Laurel & Hardy comedy shorts for The Big Business of Short, Funny Films, and that Maltin will grace the stage again for a conversation with Docter before the program.

Beloved founders of the Silent Film Festival Stephen Salmons and Melissa Chittick have chosen DIARY OF A LOST GIRL, our Centerpiece Film, for their Founder’s Pick What better way to honor Chittick and Salmon’s vision than with the divine Louise Brooks as directed by G.W. Pabst, and with an introduction by perennial Festival favorite, Frank Buxton?

And last but very far from least, Maltin will be on stage one more time to introduce the Closing Night film L’HEUREUSE MORT, an exhilarating French comedy of a failed playwright, a shipwreck, faux posthumous fame, and forged identity. This film captivated us in Pordenone, and we cannot wait to bring it to San Francisco!

For more information, please visit the Silent Film Festival website.

 Opening Night
Thursday, July 15, 7:00 pm, $17/$20
The Iron Horse
Directed by John Ford
With George O’Brien, Madge Bellamy
USA, 1924, 131 minutes
IMDb page
Set in mid-19th century America, The Iron Horse is the silent era’s version of How the West Was Won, weaving its themes of romance and history around the story of the building of the first transcontinental railway. This glorious print is the only surviving 35mm print of the American version, from the collection of Dennis James.
Dennis James will accompany on the Mighty Wurlitzer

Friday, July 16 11:30 am, Free Admission
Amazing Tales from the Archives (One)
Lost Films from the Silent Era
Presentations by Joe Lindner of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Paula Félix-Didier and Fernando Peña of Museo del Cine, Buenos Aires (the archivists responsible for finding the lost Metropolis footage).
Piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin

Friday, July 16, 2:00  pm, $12/$14
A Spray of Plum Blossoms (Yi jian mei)
Directed by Bu Wancang
With Ruan Ling-yu, Jin Yan
China, 1931, 100 minutes
IMDb page
One of the most prolific Chinese directors of the silent era, Bu Wancang based this film on William Shakespeare’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” setting the action in China, circa 1930 and casting China’s favorite on-screen couple Ruan Ling-yu and Jin Yan. Like all
Shakespeare comedies, Plum Blossoms is replete with star-crossed lovers, mistaken identity, and a wonderful happy ending. By situating the play in the ’30s-era Chinese army, the “gentlemen” of the Shakespeare’s title are the film’s officers, the duke is a warlord, and his daughter’s ladies-in-waiting are military police! 35mm print from China Archive
Piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin

July 16, 6:00 pm, $12/$14
IMDb page
Directed by Mario Camerini
With Käthe von Nagy, Maurizio D’Ancora
Italy, 1929, 74 minutes
One of the most important Italian movies of the late silent period, Rotaie is the story is of two young lovers, very poor and on the brink of suicide, who come into a bit of temporary good luck. Finding a lost wallet in a train station, the lovers hop a train to two thrilling weeks of high living. The film’s exquisite style is influenced by the expressionism of German master F.W. Murnau. 35mm print from Cineteca Milano
Piano accompaniment by Stephen Horne

Friday, July 16, 8:15 pm, $17/$20
Directed by Fritz Lang
With Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Brigitte Helm
Germany, 1927, 148 minutes
When Fritz Lang’s masterpiece debuted in Berlin in January, 1927, the sci-fi epic ran an estimated 153 minutes, but in order to maximize box office potential the German and American distributors cut the film to 90 minutes for its commercial release. For decades crucial scenes from the film were considered lost. In 2001, the Munich Film Foundation assembled a more complete version with additional footage from four contributing archives, and Metropolis had a premiere revival at 124 minutes (widely believed to be the most complete version that contemporary audiences could ever hope to see). But, in 2008 archivists from the Museo del Cine in Buenos Aires made a spectacular discovery—a 16mm dupe negative of Metropolis that was considerably longer than any existing print! That discovery led to this remarkable restoration and Metropolis can now be shown in Fritz Lang’s original—25 minute longer—complete version. Digital print from Kino International
Accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra

Saturday, July 17, 10:00 am, $12/$14
Director’s Pick! Pete Docter presents
The Big Business of Short, Funny Films
Director Pete Docter presents a selection of hilarious short films —some of the funniest moments in cinema—all in 35mm!
Dennis James will accompany on the Mighty Wurlitzer
The Cook
Directed by Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle
With Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, Al St. John, Alice Lake
USA, 1918, 22 minutes
IMDb page
Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton were physical comedians whose styles and physiognomies could not have been more different, and they complement each other brilliantly! Set in a restaurant where Fatty’s the cook and Buster’s the waiter, the inspired duo seem to be having the time of their lives—and the feeling’s contagious! 35mm print from George Eastman House
Pass the Gravy
Directed by Fred Guiol, Leo McCarey
With Max Davidson, Bert Sprotte, Martha Sleeper, Spec O’Donnell
USA, 1928, 23 minutes
IMDb page
A sheer delight, Pass the Gravy trades on the comic device of feuding neighbors and turns up the heat. Neighbors Shultz (Bert Sprotte) and Max Davidson call for detente when their children fall in love. But when Shultz’s prize rooster ends up on Davidson’s dinner table for the couple’s engagement party… Inducted into the National Film Registry in 1998. 35mm print from George Eastman House
Big Business
Directed by James W. Horne, Leo McCarey
With Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy
USA, 1929, 19 minutes
IMDb page
The tagline to this Laurel & Hardy treasure is “The story of man who turned the other cheek and got punched in the nose.” That rather understates the hilarious mayhem of this sidesplitting short that was inducted into the National Film Registry in 1992. 35mm print from Library of Congress

Saturday, July 17, 12:00 noon, $12/$14
Variations on a Theme: Musicians on the Craft of Composing and Performing for Silent Film
Moderated by Chloe Veltman
This special moderated program will shine a light the process of composing scores for silent films. Pianists Donald Sosin and Stephen Horne will take part, along with organist Dennis James, Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, Alloy Orchestra, and Swedish musician and composer Matti Bye. Chloe Veltman, regular contributor to The New York Times and producer and host of public radio’s VoiceBox, will moderate.

Saturday, July 17, 2:00 pm, $12/$14
The Flying Ace
Directed by Richard E. Norman
With Lawrence Criner, Kathryn Boyd
USA, 1926, 65 minutes
IMDb page
Richard E. Norman was among the first to produce films starring African-American actors in positive roles. Between 1920 and 1928, the Norman Film Manufacturing Co. produced six feature-length films as part of a movement to establish an independent black cinema at a time when blacks were demeaned in mainstream movies. The Flying Ace is the only Norman film that survives and its story of a crime-fighting ace pilot is still a crowd-pleaser! 35mm print from Library of Congress
Piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin

Saturday, July 17, 4:00 pm, $12/$14
The Strong Man
Directed by Frank Capra
With Harry Langdon
USA, 1926, 75 minutes
IMDb page
This Harry Langdon comedy will be shown in a pristine print from Photoplay Productions in England. Frank Capra’s second feature, this effervescent slapstick has Langdon as Paul Bergot, a mild-mannered Belgian soldier who goes on the road with German strongman Zandow the Great after World War I. When they get to the States, Paul searches for (and finds) his American sweetheart pen pal. 35mm print from Photoplay
Piano accompaniment by Stephen Horne

Saturday, July 17, 6:30 pm, $15/$17
Diary of a Lost Girl (Das Tagebuch einer Verloren)
Directed by G.W. Pabst
With Louise Brooks, Kurt Gerron
Germany, 1929, 116 minutes
IMDb page
Diary of a Lost Girl represents the second and final work of one of the cinema’s most compelling collaborations: G. W. Pabst and Louise Brooks. Together with Pandora’s Box, Diary confirmed Pabst’s artistry as one of the great directors of the silent period and established Brooks as an “actress of brilliance, a luminescent personality and a beauty unparalleled in screen history.” (Kevin Brownlow) This version has been mastered from a restoration of the film made by the Cineteca di Bologna with approximately seven minutes of previously censored footage. 35mm print of Kino International
Accompaniment by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

Saturday, July 17, 9:30 pm, $12/$14
Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages
Dir. Benjamin Christensen
Denmark, Sweden, 1922, 90 minutes
With Maren Pedersen, Clara Pontoppidan, Elith Pio, Oscar Stribolt
IMDb page
Benjamin Christensen’s legendary film uses a series of dramatic vignettes to explore the scientific hypothesis that the witches of the Middle Ages suffered the same hysteria as turn-of-the-century psychiatric patients. But the film itself is far from serious—instead it’s a witches’ brew of the scary and darkly humorous. 35mm restored, tinted print from the Swedish Film Institute.
Accompanied by newcomer to the festival, Matti Bye (winner of the “Golden Beetle”—the Swedish Oscar—for his score for Jan Troell’s Everlasting Moments
Sweden’s 2009 submission to the Academy Awards) and the Matti Bye Ensemble

Sunday, July 18, 10 am, Free Admission
Amazing Tales from the Archives (Two)
Using film clips and slides, Mike Mashon (Library of Congress) will present the fascinating and devastating reality of American silent film survival rates. Annette Melville (National Film Preservation Foundation) will follow presenting a way to bring back some of this history via a major international repatriation project.
Piano accompaniment by Stephen Horne

Sunday, July 18, 12 noon, $12/$14
The Shakedown
Directed by William Wyler
With James Murray, Barbara Kent, Jack Hanlon
USA, 1929, 70 minutes
IMDb page
Restored to 35mm by George Eastman house, The Shakedown is a superb action-drama about a boxer whose life changes when he meets up with an orphan boy. Director William Wyler is most celebrated for his talkies (The Best Years of Our Lives, Ben Hur, Funny Girl) and this uplifting tale is a splendid introduction to the master’s early career. Beautiful camerawork, fast-paced editing, and remarkable effects make this a riveting feature. 35mm print from George Eastman House
Piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin

Sunday, July 18, 2:30 pm, $12/$14
Man With a Movie Camera (Человек с Киноаппаратом)
Directed by Dziga Vertov
>USSR, 1929, 70 minutes
IMDb page
Considered one of the most innovative and influential films of the silent era, Man With a Movie Camera is startlingly modern, demonstrating a groundbreaking style of rapid editing and incorporating innumerable other cinematic effects to create a work of amazing power and energy. This dawn-to-dusk view of the Soviet Union offers a montage of urban Russian life, showing the people of the city at work and at play, and the machines that endlessly whirl to keep the metropolis alive. Vertov’s masterpiece employs all the cinematic techniques at the director’s disposal—dissolves, split-screens, slow motion, and freeze-frames—to produce a work that is exhilarating and intellectually brilliant.
Accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra

Sunday, July 18, 4:30 pm, $12/$14
The Woman Disputed
Directed by Henry King, Sam Taylor
With Norma Talmadge, Gilbert Roland
USA, 1928, 110 minutes
IMDb page
This splendid romance is a true discovery, starring the extraordinary Norma Talmadge as a goodhearted streetwalker who is coveted by Austrian and Russian rivals.  “I have just seen The Woman Disputed and it’s a remarkable piece of filmmaking. The plot takes Maupaussant’s Boule de Suif to extremes, but it succeeds so well as a brilliant piece of film craft that it MUST be brought back to life.” (Kevin Brownlow). 35mm print from the Library of Congress.
Piano accompaniment by Stephen Horne

Closing Night
Sunday, July 18, 7:30 pm, $15/$17
L’heureuse mort
Directed by Serge Nadejdine
With Nicolas Rimsky, Lucie Larue
France, 1924, 83 minutes
IMDb page
This remarkable comedy stars Nicolas Rimsky as Parisian dramatist Théodore Larue whose latest premiere is a disaster. His reputation gone, Larue takes a sea voyage, during which he is swept overboard in a storm and lost.  The press and the literary world react with an abrupt revaluation of his work, elevating him to the stature of France’s greatest dramatist. His widow finds herself in possession of a hugely valuable literary property… At which point, Larue—inopportunely—returns home. But, dramatist above all, he decides to masquerade as his colonialist brother Anselme, while industriously turning out posthumous works by Théodore. But then the real Anselme turns up with his Senegalese wife… 35mm print from the Cinémathèque Française.
Accompaniment by the Matti Bye Ensemble

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1 comment:

Brooke said...

The Museo del Cine of BA is amazing. They have so many achives I don´t know if I could see them all in one day. I went there when I was in the city. I was looking for apartments in Buenos Aires and I run into a friend who said I should go to that place because it was great for film fans. The Metropolis tape has been recovered. They are wonderful!