Monday, May 25, 2015

Up-coming: SF Silent Film Festival

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival is one of my favorite events, & this year it runs for 5 days, starting this Thursday night at the Castro Theatre. This year's selections look particularly strong, & I'd see everything If I could. The classics are represented by All Quiet on the Western Front, Murnau's The Last Laugh, Greta Garbo & John Gilbert in Flesh & the Devil, & Fred Niblo's Ben-Hur, puportedly the most expensive Hollywood production of the silent era.

The festival has been touting the restoration of When the Earth Trembled, a 1913 melodrama with the 1906 San Francisco earthquake at its climax, & Sherlock Holmes, a recently discovered 1916 feature starring William Gillette, the stage actor who established our iconic image of the detective. Cave of the Spider Women is a Chinese adaptation of an episode from Journey to the West. Other intriguing shows are a compilation of surreal shorts by Charley Bowers & an uncompleted film with an African-American cast that includes Bert Williams. I'm excited that Menilmontant is on the schedule. It's one of the best silent films I've ever seen, & I hope to learn more about it at the screening.

All the programs except for Ben-Hur are accompanied with live music, ranging from solo piano to a student orchestra from Boston's Berklee College of Music. Actors will perform the dialogue live for Frank Capra's The Donovan Affair, a talking picture with a missing soundtrack. The irrepressible film preservationist Serge Bromberg will speak in the festival's free Amazing Tales from the Archives presentation, accompany the Charley Bowers shorts on the piano, interview Kevin Brownlow before Ben-Hur & receive a well-deserved festival award at the screening of Visages d'enfants.

§ Festival Website | Musicians | Programs & Tickets | Passes

§ 20th Anniversary San Francisco Silent Film Festival
May 28–June 1, 2015
Castro Theatre

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