Lock-down may be preventing us from getting out to see silent film events ‘in the flesh’. But don’t forget that there are still opportunities to see films at live On-Line screenings. Forthcoming events include;
Sunday 26 May
We’re now up to Episode 58 of the Silent Comedy Watch Party, screened live from New York and hosted by accompanist Ben Model and silent film historian Steve Massa. The usual format is three silent comedies introduced by Steve and with Ben doing live piano accompaniment from his Upper West Side apartment. Tonight’s films include; Getting Gertie’s Goat (1924) starring Dorothy Devore, with Jimmie Harrison, Lincoln Plumer, Bud Fine and Babe London; plus The Garage (1920) starring Roscoe “Fatty”Abuckle and Buster Keaton, with Molly Malone, Dan Crimmins, Harry McCoy, Charles Dorety and Monty Banks. The event streams at 3.00pm EDT (8.00pm UK time) on You Tube. Further details here. (NB This event will be available to watch live but will also remain available on You Tube to watch later.)
Thursday 20 May
Národní filmový archiv, Prague present The Sins Of Love (aka Sin of a Beautiful Woman, aka The Last Mask aka Hríchy Lásky) (Dir. Karel Lamac, Cz, 1929). Actor Ivan Kristen and his wife Soňia leave the provincial theatre to go to work in the city. Soňia has Ivan to thank for her artistic career but it is Soňia who is given a leading role while Ivan is left without a job. Soňia becomes a star and is courted by the leading man Richard Kent. No one appreciates Ivan’s talent so he decides to leave the theatre, taking Soňia with him. Kent, however, pulls strings in order to get a big role for Ivan, ensuring that Ivan remains in town and allowing Kent to further court Sonia. But Ivan’s growing suspicions over Kent’s attention towards Sonia results in growing jealousy and leads, eventually, to tragedy. eventually to tragedy. By the late 1920s, the standing of the Czech film industry was such that it could attract high quality international cast and crew and this is a particularly fine example. Because it was a silent film, there was no problem with the international cast, with Czech, Italian, German and French stars appearing in the four main roles. The direction by Lamac is also outstanding. Find out more at silentfilmcalendar.org. With live musical accompaniment from Ožvold & Ožvold & Kratochvíl. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion on the musical accompaniment to silent films. Film screens at 17.00 CET (18.00 UK time) Further details here.
Wednesday 26 – Thursday 27 May
Remapping Early British Cinema: A Symposium hosted by Birkbeck, University of London A series of major publications in recent years have shed fresh light on the early British film business, from the 19th century pioneers up to the boom in cinema building before the First World War. Do these require revision of the standard histories by Rachael Low and John Barnes, which were pioneering in their time? And how are new historical insights best distributed, accessed, and debated in the digital era? Speakers at this two-day symposium will include Barry Anthony, Tim Boon, Stephen Bottomore, Simon Brown, Zoë Viney Burgess, Jon Burrows, Ian Christie, Malcolm Cook, Bryony Dixon, Peter Domankiewicz, Frank Gray, Luke McKernan, Simon Popple, Laraine Porter, Deac Rossell, Vanessa Toulmin. The symposium will run between 14.00-18.00 over two days on Microsoft Teams hosted by Birkbeck. The event is free but you will need to register here
Thursday 10 June
Národní filmový archiv, Prague present The Lovers of an Old Criminal (aka An Old Gangster’s Molls aka Milenky starého kriminálníka) (Dir. Svatopluk Innemann, Cz, 1927) Factory owner Pardon meets and falls for Olga. But Olga’s mother has better things planned for her daughter and spirits her away. Industrialist’s daughter Fifi is set on marrying Pardon but in order to search for Olga he swaps places with his uncle, Ponděliček, who’s age and infirmity both uncle and nephew hope will put Fifi off. But Fifi is not a girl easily dissuaded, even when Ponděliček claims to be Kanibal, the murderous criminal. And when the real Kanibal shows up the chaos really starts. No bare bones synopsis could remotely capture the frenetic pace of this wonderfully funny film. This is a picture which covers virtually every sub-category of the comedy genre. The early scenes of Fifi, luxuriating amongst her many handmaidens while puffing on a Churchillian sized cigar, have the sophistication of Lubitsch and yet the final hectic chase sequence is pure Keystone. And there is everything in between! This knockabout comedy centres around star Vlasta Burian as Pondelícek. Unknown in the West, Burian was already a national treasure in 1920s Czechoslovakia, with wonderful comic timing and that ability of the greatest comedians to generate a laugh from just the slightest look or gesture. But the eye-popping star has to be Fifi herself, wearing outfits that would have raised eyebrows in swinging sixties London let alone Prague of the 1920s She is played wonderfully by Anny Ondráková, who would shorten her surname simply to Ondra a year later when her burgeoning career took her to Germany. This really is a film not to be missed. Find out more at silentfilmcalendar.org. With live musical accompaniment from Vojtěch Procházka. Film screens at 17.00 CET (18.00 UK time) Further details here.
Thursday 17 June
Národní filmový archiv, Prague present Gypsies (aka Cikani) (Dir. Karl Anton, Cz, 1921) A film adaptation of the eponymous novel by Karel Hynek Mácha – author of the celebrated epic poem May – about a Venetian gondolier whose beloved is enticed away by a wealthy foreigner.This tale of a Venetian gondolier whose desire for revenge following a thwarted love affair leads him eventually to Bohemia. The intricate plot also deals with destinies of various other characters, who finally come together in a dramatic encounter at one time and in one place. In his role as screenwriter and director, Anton produced a highly accomplished version of Mácha’s work. He respected the original but was also able, along with the cinematographer Karel Kopřiva, to capitalise on the possibilities that the film medium offered. For the Venice prologue, the filmmakers exploited the photogenic qualities of the city – the narrow streets, the lagoons, gondolas and the sea – beforemoving the action to the enigmatic Czech landscape around the castle of Kokořín. Find out more at filmovyprehled.cz. With live musical accompaniment from Trio Neuvěřitelno. Film screens at 17.00 CET (18.00 UK time) Further details here.
Thursday 24 June
Národní filmový archiv, Prague present The Crucified (aka Ukřižovaná) (Dir. Boris Orlicky, Cz, 1921) Officer Karel Vyšín has fallen in love with Ruth, the daughter of a Jewish inn-keeper. Karel’s friend Xavier also loves Ruth but he does not want to stand in Karel’s way. When Ruth becomes pregnant, her father, in his fury, curses her and drives her out of the house. Ruth and her child return to her father when a pogrom is waged against the Jews in the village. The inn- keeper is killed and Ruth is crucified. Her son Jan, however, is saved by Xavier. But Jan’s life will take many turns until a final revelation takes place. A naturalistic 1921 adaptation of a Jakub Arbes novel that deals with the socio-political climate of the mid19th century Czech lands, antisemitism, war and love. Ukřižovaná belongs to the rather forgotten part of the Czech cinema history in that it does not shy away from depicting horrors of 19th century central European antisemitism in a vivid and graphic manner. Ukřižovaná might be one of the most suggestive films of its time with its haunting colours, intricate plot and an atmosphere that is not easy to come by. With live musical accompaniment from Ondřej Dizzcock (Ondřej Bělíček). The screening will be followed by a panel discussion on acting styles in early cinema. Film screens at 17.00 CET (18.00 UK time) Further details here.