Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Up-Coming: San Francisco Silent Film Festival 2018

I'm looking forward to the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, which this year expands to 23 screenings over 5 days, from classics to rarities to recent discoveries, all with live musical accompaniment. It opens this Wednesday night at the Castro Theatre, with the grandiosely melodramatic The Man Who Laughs, starring Conrad Veidt as the grotesque title character. The Berklee Silent Film Orchestra will perform their original score, recreating the experience of top-class film-going in the 1920s.

The festival's offerings are so uncommon that it's frustrating not to be able to take in everything. I'm always fascinated by the informative Amazing Tales from the Archives, showcasing the work of film preservationists & historians, which is offered free on Thursday, May 31st, at 10am. The avant-garde program on Friday, June 1st at 2pm looks intriguing. It includes films by Marcel Duchamp & Sergei Eisenstein & is accompanied by the stark, eerie music of the Matti Bye Ensemble.

Photo of Kevin Brownlow taken by Pamela Gentile
Venerated film historian Kevin Brownlow, whose book The Parade's Gone By gave me my mental image of the competitive, pioneering silent era, will attend the festival & celebrate his 80th birthday at the screening of Mare Nostrum on Saturday, June 2nd, at noon. Newly discovered footage of the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, probably shot in the last week of April 1906, will be shown at the Saturday, June 2nd, 2:45pm screening of the Italian comedy Trappola.

Greta Garbo fans should note that the version of The Saga of Gösta Berling playing on Saturday, June 2nd at 7p, is advertised as 200 minutes long. The Pacific Film Archive offers a supplementary program of Greta Garbo Rarities on Wednesday, May 30th at 3p. The delightful Serge Bromberg will present a program of early shorts from his Lobster Films archive on Sunday, June 3rd, at 10am. I'm excited to see that his list includes some of the startling "accidental 3D" films by Georges Méliès.

Klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals joins the Donald Sosin Ensemble to accompany The Ancient Law on Sunday, June 3rd at 2:25pm. This 1923 German film is apparently a source for The Jazz Singer. The salon-style Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra accompanies Battling Butler, starring Buster Keaton, to close out the festival on Sunday, June 3rd at 8p.

§ The San Francisco Silent Film Festival
May 30 - June 3, 2017
Castro Theatre

§ Festival Site | Schedule & Tickets | Festival Pass

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