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

 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

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

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


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