Tuesday, July 14, 2009

SFSFF: Amazing Tales from the Archives

The 14th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival
SF Silent Film Festival: Amazing Tales from the Archives
July 10 - 12, 2009
Castro Theatre

I was back the next morning for this talk on film preservation. In this time, when the Web seems to give us easy access to every sort of media, it is interesting to consider that much, if not most, of these early films are gone or rapidly decaying. The festival now admirably grants a Silent Film Preservation Fellowship to forestall this loss. Last year's recipient is Anne Smatla, & this morning she screened her preserved film, Screen Snapshots (7th series) (1924). It's a kind of Hollywood behind-the-scenes promotional short. We also saw other curiousities, such as a fragmented trailer for a completely lost Colleen Moore feature & an Edison movie designed for home projection. The Edison short used an unusual format in which the film was printed down a 22mm film in 3 columns. To show the entire film, it had to be run forward, backward, then forward again through a special projector.

The audience showed its dedication when time ran out at the end of the event & the speaker threatened to skip the final short. Vocal protests ensued, & we got to see all our movies. Stephen Horne gently accompanied the films on piano & flute, sometimes playing both simultaneously.

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