April 2017

Important Notice :    This site’s original incarnation, silentfilmcalendar.com, is sadly no more, victim of a hacking attack.  We are now attempting to rebuild the site as silentfilmcalendar.org.  But it is still in its early stages and many details from the original site such as links and images were lost.  Please bear with us as we seek to replace these over the coming weeks.

1 April

Phantom Of The Opera (Dir. Rupert Julian, 1925)  (Screening format – not known, 103mins)  A title that needs no introduction, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ has spawned many remakes, remasters and sequels. This original film version, produced with moments of early Technicolour, sees Lon Chaney, the ‘Man of a Thousand Faces’ perform one of his most iconic roles. His ghastly make-up and outrageous performance made this title a benchmark in the American silent film era. The film was a critical and commercial success upon release, and still stands as an important film in cinematic history to this day, with press quotes from the time labelling the film an ‘ultra-fantastic melodrama’ (New York Times), ‘produced on a stupendous scale’ (Moving Picture World) and ‘probably the greatest inducement to nightmare that has yet been screened’ (Variety).  The mysterious phantom (Lon Chaney) is a vengeful composer living in the catacombs under the Paris Opera House, determined to promote the career of  the singer he loves (Mary Philbin).  Famed for the phantom’s shock unmasking, incredible set designs and the masked ball sequence, it still packs a punch. Find out more at wikipedia.org. With live musical accompaniment by acclaimed musicians Minima. Clent Parish Hall, Stourbridge, West Midlands    Link

   2 April

Buster Keaton Shorts (Screening Format – not known) A selection of short comedies from the master of physical comedy and the deadpan expression in a specially selected programme for kids and families. Titles to be confirmed.   Presented as part of the ‘All About Piano’ festival.  With live piano accompaniment by John Sweeney.  Ciné Lumière, Institut Francais, London Link

La Fille de l’eau   (Dir. Jean Renoir, 1924)  (Screening format – not known, 71mins)  One of the first films directed by Renoir featuring his first wife Catherine Hessling, La Fille de l’eau takes place in the late 19th century, in an age of canals and barges. Reduced to poverty from the loss of her father, Virginia falls back upon her own resources to eke out a simple living by stealing, until a classic case of mistaken identity leads #to the heroine being accused of setting fire to a French peasant’s haystack, and Virginia is forced to flee. Georges Raynal, the son of an eccentric landowner, finds her and takes her to a farmer’s cottage where she can be cared for. Virginie’s new found happiness is short-lived, however, as her cruel, drunken uncle Jef appears and demands money from her…    Find out more at filmsdefrance.com.  Presented as part of the ‘All About Piano’ festival.  With live piano accompaniment by John Sweeney.  Ciné Lumière, Institut Francais, London   Link

4 April

Works by Segundo de Chomon.  (Screening format – not known)   Although Spanish film pioneer Segundo de Chomon has often been overshadowed by his early cinema contemporary Georges Méliès, the work he left behind is arguably as brilliant. Starting out in Barcelona and then based at Pathe in Paris from 1905, de Chomon was happy roaming across genres from Gothic horror and trick-film to slapstick and travelogue, and the selection of films on show here give a good taste of his joyous inventiveness. Look out for gigantic frogs, gravity-defying acrobats and an electric hotel, as well as some eye-popping experiments with stencil colour. Find out more at thebioscope.net .  Presented as part of the Flatpack Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne.  Grand Hotel, Birmingham  Link

Battle of the Somme (Dir.Geoffrey Malins, 1916)  (Screening format – not known, 77mins)  The Battle of the Somme gave its 1916 audience an unprecedented insight into the realities of trench warfare, controversially including the depiction of dead and wounded soldiers. It shows scenes of the build-up to the infantry offensive including the massive preliminary bombardment, coverage of the first day of the battle (the bloodiest single day in Britain’s military history) and depictions of the small gains and massive costs of the attack. The Battle of the Somme remains one of the most successful British films ever made. It is estimated over 20 million tickets were sold in Great Britain in the first two months of release, and the film was distributed world-wide to demonstrate to allies and neutrals Britain’s commitment to the First World War. It is the source of many of that conflict’s most iconic images. It was made by British official cinematographers Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell. Though it was not intended as a feature film, once the volume and quality of their footage had been seen in London, the British Topical Committee for War Films decided to compile a feature-length film.  Find out more at wikipedia.org.   Presented as part of the Somme100Film Centenary Tour.  With live orchestral accompaniment by  Suffolk Youth Orchestra, Conducted by Philip Shaw.   The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk Link

An Italian Straw Hat (Dir. Rene Clair, 1928) (Screening format – not known, 60mins) On the day of Fadinard (Albert Prejean)’s wedding, his horse eats a lady( Olga Tschechowa)’s hat on a bush at the roadside, while the lady is hidden behind the bush with her lover Lieutenant Tavernier (Geymond Vital)  . Because she is married, she cannot return home hatless without being compromised, and Tavernier orders Fadinard to replace the hat with one exactly like it – or else he will wreck his new home. In an elaborate sequence of complications, Fadinard tries to find a hat while keeping to his marriage schedule. Find out more at silentfilm.org .   Sands Cinema Club, Rotherhithe, London Link

5 April

Battle of the Somme (Dir.Geoffrey Malins, 1916)  (Screening format – not known, 77mins)  For film details see 4 April above.     Presented as part of the Somme100Film Centenary Tour.    With live orchestral accompaniment by  Suffolk Youth Orchestra, Conducted by Philip Shaw.  Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Snape, Suffolk Link

6 April

A Lowland Cinderella  (aka A Highland Maid)  (Dir. Sidney Morgan, 1921) (Screening format – 35mm, 59mins) A 1920’s take on the Cinderella fairy tale with Joan Morgan as Hester #Sterling who must try and overcome the evil schemes of Dr Torpican to find true love.  An adaptation of S. R. Crockett’s novel by Sidney Morgan, made at his Shoreham Beach Studio in the summer of 1921, the first and only film studio complex in West Sussex. The Shoreham studios operated between 1919 and 1923,  run by Stanley Morgan, at a site near to the Church of the Good Shepherd.  Morgan made seventeen features in the studios for the British film market. Joan Morgan, Sidney’s daughter, became the star of the studio. She died in 2004 aged 99.  Find out more at  screenarchive.brighton.ac.uk.  Presented as part of the British Silent Film Festival Symposium.  King’s College, London Link

A Light Woman (Dir. Adrian Brunel, 1928) (Screening format – DVD, 25mins) Previously thought lost,  a truncated 9.5mm home-market version of this film has recently been discovered, probably unseen since its original release. No further details available.  Presented as part of the British Silent Film Festival Symposium.  King’s College, London   Link

7 April

Around China with a Movie Camera  (Screening format – not known) Take a trip back in time with this programme of rare and beautiful travelogues, newsreels and home movies.  See Shanghai’s bustling, cosmopolitan Nanjing Road in 1900, and a day at the Shanghai races in 1937. Cruise Hangzhou’s picturesque canals and visit China’s remote villages in Hunan and Yunnan provinces.  Made by British and French filmmakers – from professionals to intrepid tourists, colonial-era expatriates and missionaries – this programme explores fifty years of Chinese history and includes possibly the oldest surviving film to be shot in China, unseen for over 115 years.  Presented as part of the Flatpack Film Festival.   Helping to bring this footage to life will be a five-piece band brought together by composer Ruth Chan. Chan is based in the Midlands and for her the project was a chance to connect with her own family roots, creating a beguiling mixture of East and West. Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham Link

The Red Turtle (Dir. Michael Dudok de Wit, 2017) (Screening format – not known, 80mins)  That rare thing, a modern silent.  The starting point for The Red Turtle was an out-of-the-blue email to animator Michael Dudok de Wit, from the people at Studio Ghibli. Big fans of his short films including the Oscar-winning Father and Daughter (2001), they said that if he would like to make a feature they’d be very interested in producing it. Ten years later we get to enjoy the fruits of this happy gathering, a wordless and beautifully crafted fable about a man cast adrift on a remote island. Find out more at wikipedia.org.     Presented as part of the Flatpack Film Festival.  The Electric Cinema, Birmingham  Link

The Unsleeping Eye (Dir. Alexander Macdonald, 1928) (Screening format – 35mm, 68mins) An adventure story shot by a Scottish production company, this film has not been screened since its original release.  No further details.  Presented as part of the British Silent Film Festival Symposium.  King’s College, London   Link

8 April

Minute Bodies: The Intimate World of F. Percy Smith  (Dir. Stuart A Staples, 2016) (Screening format – not known, 55mins) An intriguing documentary on the work of Percy Smith, a British naturalist and early nature documentary film maker who from 1909 pioneered the use of time lapse and micro cinematography.  He went to amazing lengths to make his films, creating home-built contraptions from Meccano and gramophone needles and fashioning his own microscopic lenses to get up close and personal. The results are by turns funny, bizarre and lovely, and are here presented in a whole new light thanks to the work of composer Stuart Staples (Tindersticks) and editor David Reeve.  Presented as part of the Flatpack Film Festival.  The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham   Link

Lucky Star (Dir. Frank Borzage, 1929) (Screening format – not known, 90mins) New England, 1914. Tim installs power lines. Mary is a poor farm girl with a sideline in thieving. When Tim returns from war in a wheelchair, an unexpected romance slowly sparks into life. This was the third pairing of Charles Farrell and #Janet Gaynor for director Frank Borzage, and his soft-focus lighting shows off both stars at their swoonsomely gorgeous best. Borzage’s final silent movie was missing presumed lost for decades until a print emerged in the 80s, a rediscovery which has given audiences the privilege of once again enjoying this dreamy pastoral melodrama.  Find out more at tcm.com  Presented as part of the Flatpack Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment by  Scotland-based Polish musician Ela Orleans.  The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham Link

A selection of experimental short films (Dir. various) (Screening format – not known) To complement their current Jean Painlevé exhibition, Ikon will be screening a selection of experimental shorts from some of his contemporaries. During the 30s Painlevé’s work was often screened as part of France’s thriving ‘cine-club’ scene, and this afternoon’s event offers a taste of those programmes. Includes work by Georges Méliès, Jean Vigo and Joris Ivens, and free refreshments. Presented as part of the Flatpack Film Festival. Ikon Boat, Brewmaster Bridge, Brindleyplace, Birmingham  Link

8-9 April

House of Mystery (Dir. Alexandre Volkoff, 1921-23) (Screening format – not known, 383mins)  An epic of melodramatic villainy in ten episodes, The House of Mystery emerged in 1923 as a triumph of the ciné-roman genre that was a staple of the French film industry before WWI. Made by a team of exiles recently fled from the Russian Revolution, the story centres around Julien Villandrit (Ivan Mosjoukine) and his courtship with Régine de Bettigny (Hélène Darly), a romance that inspires bitter jealousy in Henri Corradin, Julien’s malevolent associate (played by Charles Vanel, a specialist in moustache-twirling who went on to a number of roles for Clouzot). The love triangle sparks a glorious stream of plot twists, disguises and cliffhangers, with visual storytelling that is consistently compelling and rich.  Find out more at  moviessilently.com.  Presented as part of the Flatpack Film Festival.  Screened in four segments over two days with live piano accompaniment by John Sweeney.   Birmingham and Midland Institute, John Lee Theatre, Birmingham  Link

11 April

The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (Dir. Ernst Lubitsch/John M. Stahl, 1928) (Screening format – not known, 105mins)  Crown Prince Karl Heinrich (Phillippe de Lacy/Ramon Navorro) , nephew of the king of a small domain, has a joyless existence in the# pretentious formalism of the moribund court until his tutor, Dr. Juttner (Jean Hersholt) , arrives. After several years, Juttner takes Karl Heinrich to Heidelberg to study at the university. Here the prince falls in love with Kathi (Norma Shearer) , the niece of the owner of an inn where the tutor and the prince have taken rooms. But when the King dies and Karl is called home will things ever be the same?  Find out more at silentfilm.org Sands Cinema Club, Rotherhithe, London Link

12 April

Stark Love (Dir. Karl Brown, 1927)  (Screening format – 16mm) Stark Love is the story of Rob Warwick (Forrest James), a young man living in a hillbilly society in Carolina, who learns to read, begins to understand that women should be looked up to, and tries to provide an education for his neighbour Barbara Allen (Helen Mundy). When his mother dies, he has to battle against the reactionary views and plans of his father. A mixture of anthropology and melodrama, Stark Love was released by Paramount Pictures on February 28, 1927. When the film was released it was praised for its documentary realism but even with such praise, the film was not a commercial success. Paramount most likely burned the picture, along with 1,014 other feature silent films, for the silver they contained and it was thought lost until a copy was found by Kevin Brownlow in the Czechoslovakian film archives. In 2009, the Library of Congress described it as “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant, and it was preserved in the National Film Registry.  Find out more at wikipedia.org.   Presented by the Kennington Bioscope.    With live piano accompaniment.  Cinema Museum, Lambeth  Link

19 April

Australian Silent Film Night.   Dr Stephen Morgan (King’s College London) introduces an evening devoted to Australian silent cinema, titles TBC.  A South West Silents presentation. The Lansdown Public House, Clifton Bristol  Link

21 April

Nosferatu (Dir. F W Murnau, 1922) (Screening format – not known, 81mins) A German Expressionis horror masterpiece starring Max Shreck as the vampire Count Orlok.  The film was an unauthorised adaption of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ with names and other details changed because the studio could not obtain the rights to the novel.  Stoker’s heirs sued over the adaption and a court ruling ordered that all copies of the film be destroyed.  However, a few prints survived and the film came to be regarded as an inspirational masterwork of the cinema. In the film, Count Orlok travels across Europe leaving a trail of death in his wake.  Brilliantly eerie, with imaginative touches which later adaptions never achieved.  Find out more at wikipedia.org  .  With live musical accompaniment from performers My Octopus Mind supported by  soprano and double bassist Nina Harries.  Arnolfini, Bristol  Link

22 April

Putting Pants On Philip (Dir. Clyde Bruckman, 1927 ) + The Finishing Touch (Dir. Clyde Bruckman/Leo McCarey, 1928) + Battle of the Century (Dir. Clyde Bruckman, 1927)  (Screening format – not known,19/19/19mins )  Spend a glorious afternoon in the company of the world’s best-loved comedy team.   First up is ‘Putting Pants on Philip’, their first official joint billing which casts Ollie as a pompous man-about-town reluctantly put in charge of Stan’s Scottish, kilt-wearing dandy with an unswerving eye for the ladies.  Next up is the brilliantly funny ‘The Finishing Touch’ where the boys are typically inept handymen charged with the building of an alarmingly flimsy house under the unforgiving eye of the plot owner and a nurse from the neighbouring sanatorium.  Finally  the Holy Grail of the Boys’ films: ‘The Battle of the Century’.  A complete version of this two-reeler has not been available since the silent era but now the missing footage has been found and archivists at Lobster Films in France have restored the work, allowing fans to enjoy the full film including the mother of all pie-fights for the first time in nearly a hundred years.   With live piano accompaniment by Jane Gardner.  Hippodrome Cinema, Bo’Ness Link

23 April

Les Miserables (Dir. Henri Fescourt, 1925 (Screening format – DCP, 397mins)  Never screened before in the UK this is the restored, retinted and full length version of Fescourt’s adaption of Hugo’s classic 19th century novel.  The film is centred primarily on the story of Jean Valjean (Gabriel Gabrio), an ex-convict struggling to redeem himself, with his attempts  continually ruined by the intrusion of the  cruel, ruthless police inspector Javert (  Jean Toulout ), who has dedicated his life to pursuing Valjean, whose only crime was stealing a loaf of bread. Never actually a lost film, screenings of Fescourt’s epic have previously been limited to a heavily cut-down, black and white version.  But #following a four year restoration project, the film has been restored to its former glory, all six hours worth!.  Screened in France initially in late 2014 and then at Pordonone in 2015 this will be its first UK screening.  Although Hugo’s novel has been adapted at least 50 times for screen, television or stage, those that have seen the full length version of Fescourt’s adaption contend that ” Among all these, however, it is not too much to surmise that Henri Fescourt’s 1925 cinéroman is the most faithful in every sense – to the narrative, the philosophy, the humanity, and the morality. This is Hugo.”  Find out more at wondersinthedark.wordpress.com  With live piano accompaniment by Neil Brand.  Barbican, London  Link

25 April

Accident (Ger.  Polizeibericht Überfall  ) (Dir. Erno Metzner, 1928    ) +   Menilmontant  (Dir. Dimitri Kirsanoff, 1926)   (Screening format – not known, 21/38 mins)   Accident focuses upon the struggles of a German citizen who happens upon a counterfeit coin lying in a gutter.and poses the notion that the coin might be “cursed,” as another passerby is struck down by a car while reaching for it in the middle of the road. Although the finder of the coin is at first glad, he soon regrets ever having picked it up.  Find out more at imdb.com.   In Menilmontant, a couple are brutally murdered in the working-class district of Paris. Later on, the narrative follows the lives of their two daughters (Nadia Sibirskaïa and Yolande Beaulieu), both in love with a Parisian thug (Guy Belmont) and leading them to separate ways.   Kirsanoff’s second film, Menilmontant is also his best known.  It has been described as “une oevre presque parfaite” (“a nearly perfect work”) . Its story is told entirely in images, without the use of explanatory intertitles; Kirsanoff was among the very rare filmmakers of the silent era to attempt this. The film makes use of techniques such as montage, hand-held camera, ultra-rapid montage, and superposition.  For more info see seul-le-cinema.blogspot.co.uk  Sands Cinema Club, Rotherhithe, London   Link

27 April

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1920) (Screening format – not known,  77 mins) In the village of Holstenwall, fairground hypnotist Dr Caligari (Werner Krauss) puts on show a somnambulist called Cesare (Conrad Veidt) who has been asleep for twenty three years.  At night, Cesare walks the streets murdering people on the doctor’s orders.  A student (Friedrich Feher) suspects Caligari after a friend is found dead and it transpires that the doctor is the director of a lunatic asylum.  Fueled by the pessimism and gloom of post-war Germany, the sets by Hermann Warm stand unequaled as a shining example of Expressionist design.  Find out more at wikipedia.org.    With live organ accompaniment by David Bednall.  University of Bristol, Victoria Rooms Auditorium, Bristol Link

29 April

Metropolis (Dir. Fritz Lange, 1927) (Screening format –not known , 153 mins ) Made in Germany during the Weimar period, Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and follows the attempts of Freder (Gustav Frohlich), the wealthy son of the city’s ruler, and Maria (Brigitte Helm), a poor worker, to overcome the vast gulf separating the classes of their city. Filming took place in 1925 at a cost of approximately five million Reichmarks, making it the most expensive film ever released up to that point. It is regarded as a pioneering work of science fiction and is among the most influential films of all time. Following its world premiere in 1927, half an hour was cut from Fritz Lang’s masterpiece and lost to the world. Eighty years later a spectacular discovery was made when the footage was found in a small, dusty museum in Buenos Aires. The film was then painstakingly reconstructed and digitally restored so that at last audiences could see the iconic futuristic fairy tale as Lang had envisioned it. Find out more at silentfilm.org  Being presented as part of the Herne Hill Free Film Festival.  With Gottfried Huppertz recorded score.  All Saint’s Church, London SE21. Link

30 April

Peckham Streets Film Night (Dir. various)  Maverick Projects and The Peckham Society present an evening of archive films, photos and live music celebrating the streets of Peckham and Southwark over the decades. From newly-discovered early 1900s slapstick comedies made at the Gaumont film studios on Champion Hill, to Peckham street parades in 1913, bomb damage of the Second World War, streets of the Swinging Sixties, the draining of the glorious Surrey Canal, right up to the violence of the 2011 riots. We will be taking over the former Electric Cinema space on Rye Lane for one night only, bringing you the history of our streets.  The films and historical photographs will be accompanied by a series of great local musicians including a silent cinema pianist (Meg Morley), a blues guitarist and a rock band as well as a DJ mixing old 78s.   133 Rye Lane (entrance in corridor to Bussey Building), Peckham, London Link


NB  Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure that the information contained in these listings is accurate, silentfilmcalendar.org can take no responsibility for any errors or inaccuracies.  You are strongly advised to confirm with the venue that the event remains as detailed, particularly if travelling any distance to attend.