May

 


 

 

 

 


2 May

Queen Kelly (Dir. Erich von Stroheim, US, 1929) (Screening format – not known, 101mins) A young convent girl is seduced by a European nobleman, arousing the ire of his bride-to-be Queen Kelly and eventually finding herself exiled to a brothel in East Africa. This film solidified Stroheim’s reputation for extravagance and insistence on complete artistic freedom regardless of economic considerations. It would cost him his Hollywood career. Visually striking and perverse, this film was Erich von Stroheim’s last silent film and final directorial project.  The production of the costly film was shut down after complaints by the star, Gloria Swanson, about the direction the film was taking.  In later interviews, Swanson had claimed that she had been misled by the script which referred to her character arriving in, and taking over, a dance hall; looking at the rushes, it was obvious the ‘dance hall’ was actually a brothel. Stroheim was fired from the film and much of the story-line scrapped. Swanson and producer Joseph P Kennedy (with whom Swanson was having an affair) still wanted to salvage what was left, as it had been so costly and time-consuming, and had potential market value. An alternate ending was shot and the film was released in Europe and South America (but never in the US).  Find out more at sensesofcinema.com.  With recorded soundtrack.  Austrian Cultural Forum, London SW7 Link

Seven Chances (Dir. Buster keaton, US, 1925) + Hard Luck (Dir. Buster Keaton/Edward F Cline, US, 1921) (Screening format – DCP, 57/22mins) In Seven Chances, Keaton plays a young man who suddenly finds he must marry within hours in order to inherit a fortune; after a woeful explanation to the woman he loves, he advertises his need for a wife – with consequences that range from alarming to life-threatening. This elegant, meticulously detailed comedy of pre-marital manners concludes with one of the greatest chase sequences of all time.  Find out more at tcm.com. Believed lost for decades, Hard Luck is a black comedy which sees Buster’s protagonist broke, unloved and haplessly bent on suicide. Find out more at  quietbubble.wordpress.com With live musical accompaniment.  BFI Southbank, London Link

Tokyo Chorus (Dir.  Yasujiro Ozu, Jap, 1931) (Screening format – not known, 90 mins)  Talking pictures came late to Japan, where silent film production continued far into the 1930s. Tokyo Chorus was produced by the Shochiku Company, which was founded as far back as 1895 and still continues today. It was directed by one of Japan’s most famous film-makers, Yasujirō Ozu and stars Tokihiko Okada and Emiko Yagumo. The story, about a man who faces financial problems after losing his job when defending a colleague, was based on various elements in the Shoshimin-gai (`Middle Class Avenue’) novels by Kitamura Komatsu. Tokyo Chorus has sometimes been compared to King Vidor’s 1928 masterpiece The Crowd. Find out more at silentfilm.org.  A Kennington Bioscope presentation.  With live musical accompaniment.  The Cinema Museum, Lambeth Link

3 May

Brighton: Symphony Of A City (Dir. Lizzie Thynne, UK, 2015) + Le Voyage Dans la Lune (Trip to the Moon) (Dir. Georges Melies, Fr, 1902), (Screening format – not known, 48/13 mins).  The daily activities and extraordinary events in the seaside town of Brighton are evocatively captured in modern silent Brighton: Symphony Of A City,  wittily echoing the silent classic, Berlin Symphony of a City (1927). All-weather bathers plunge into winter seas at sunrise. Residents work, commute, flirt and play and do surprising things in their offices. Homelessness and gentrification collide; we glimpse forgotten attractions in sparkling amateur movies from Screen Archive South East. ‘Father Neptune’ is dunked in a raucous ritual from 1951; 1930s marchers celebrate the anniversary of the Soviet Union and modern protestors commemorate Gaza. The elegant ferris wheel, a contemporary icon destined for destruction, marks the passage of time. The day culminates in night-time revelry, astounding puppetry and the winter solstice festival, ‘The Burning of the Clocks’. A kaleidoscopic view of this unique seaside town, which evokes the past in the present and the extraordinary in the everyday. Brighton Symphony of a City was a Brighton Festival Commission for its 50th anniversary in 2016 where it premiered with a live performance of the score by the Orchestra of Sound and Light.  Find out more at brightonsymphony.com.    A Trip to the Moon  is a 1902 French adventure film inspired by a wide range of sources, including the works of novelist Jules Verne The film follows a group of astronomers who travel to the moon in a cannon-propelled capsule, explore its surface, escape from an underground city of  lunar inhabitants and return to Earth.  Filmed in the overtly theatrical style which marked out Méliès’ work, the film remains the best-known of the hundreds of films made by Méliès, and is widely regarded as the earliest example of the  science fiction film genre and, more generally, as one of the most influential films in cinema history.  Find out more at filmsite.org.     Brighton: Symphony Of A City features a recorded score by composer Ed Hughes performed by the Orchestra of Sound and Light. Cinema Museum, London.   Link

4 May

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 labeling 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. Tutbury Village Hall, Tutbury, Staffs Link

5 May

Seven Chances (Dir. Buster keaton, US, 1925) + Hard Luck (Dir. Buster Keaton/Edward F Cline, US, 1921) (Screening format – DCP, 57/22mins) In Seven Chances, Keaton plays a young man who suddenly finds he must marry within hours in order to inherit a fortune; after a woeful explanation to the woman he loves, he advertises his need for a wife – with consequences that range from alarming to life-threatening. This elegant, meticulously detailed comedy of pre-marital manners concludes with one of the greatest chase sequences of all time.  Find out more at tcm.com. Believed lost for decades, Hard Luck is a black comedy which sees Buster’s protagonist broke, unloved and haplessly bent on suicide. Find out more at  quietbubble.wordpress.com With recorded score.  BFI Southbank, London Link

Nosferatu (Dir. F W Murnau, 1922) (Screening format – not known, 96mins) 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 .  Presented as part of the Derby Film Festival.  With live organ accompaniment by Richard Hills.  The Cathedral, Derby Link

Cottage on Dartmoor (Dir. Anthony Asquith, 1929) (Screening format – not known, 84mins)  Joe (Uno Henning) works as a barber in a shop in a Devon town, alongside a manicurist called Sally (Norah Baring). He becomes infatuated with her and asks her out but  it is clear that Sally does not reciprocate Joe’s feelings.  Joe’s infatuation with her develops into obsession. Meanwhile a young  farmer Harry (Hans Schlettow), begins to woo Sally and the couple begin seeing each other which leaves Joe in despair. After a fight with Harry, Joe is jailed but swears revenge on Harry and Sally.  A Cottage on Dartmoor is a tale of love and revenge set in the bleak landscape of Dartmoor and a thoughtful distillation of the best of European silent film techniques from a director steeped in the work of the Soviet avant-garde and German expressionism. One of the last films of the silent era and a virtuoso piece of film-making, A Cottage on Dartmoor was a final passionate cry in defence of an art form soon to be obsolete. Find out more at    silentfilm.org. With live musical accompaniment from Wurlitza. Gwinear Hall, Gwinear, Cornwall   Link

6 May

The Racket (Dir. Lewis Milestone, US, 1928) (Screening format – DCP, 84mins) Nominated for best picture in the first ever Oscars, The Racket is a cracking gangster picture featuring the charismatic Louis Wolheim as a bootlegger pursued by Thomas Meighan’s Chicago copper, with Marie Prevost’s vengeful ‘chantoose’ in tow. In 1928, Moving Picture News noted that ‘The Racket is much better than usual underworld picture.’ The Racket  was one of the movies that started the cycle of gangster pictures that would lead to Little Caesar (1931), The Public Enemy (1931) and Scarface (1932). It’s also one of producer Howard Hughes’ most sought after titles and has been out of distribution for decades. The film’s  success led to Milestone’s triumph two years later with All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) with Louis Wolheim playing the gruff Sergeant Katczinsky. Despite its popularity however, The Racket was banned in Chicago just as the play it was based on had been, as being a little too uncomfortable for the city of Al Capone. Hughes remade the movie in 1951 with Robert Ryan in the gangster role and the original remained locked up in his personal vault.  Find out more at nitratediva.wordpress.com.  With live musical accompaniment.  BFI Southbank, London Link

8 May

Paul Merton’s Silent Clowns Roll up for a night of cracking silent film slapstick introduced by Paul Merton and accompanied live at the piano by Neil Brand. Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Laurel and Hardy all performed on the City Varieties stage – tonight, they’re back, side-by-side, in a packed bill of silent comedy masterpieces.  Paul Merton and Neil Brand’s acclaimed blend of live performance and classic silent film has entertained audiences all over the UK. Tonight, they kick off the 3rd Yorkshire Silent Film Festival with a one-off gala event in Yorkshire’s most beautiful comedy venue.  Paul Merton says: “I’m thrilled beyond words to be presenting my favourite silent comedians – Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Laurel and Hardy – at the iconic City Varieties theatre in Leeds, in some of the funniest films ever made. With live music provided by the brilliant Neil Brand, the evening promises to be a comic cavalcade of fantastic fun and laughter.”  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds  Link

9 May

Event rescheduled from 2 March

Assunta Spina (Dir. Gustavo Serena and Francesca Bertini, It, 1915)  (Screening format – not known, 70 mins) Assunta Spina is one of the great films of Italian silent cinema. Shot in fall 1914 in Naples the picture shows the city’s soul, scrutinizes its every aspect, realistically portraying the serenity and beauty of its most colorful areas, the chaotic frenzy of its neighborhoods and markets, as well as the run-down state of the working class suburbs. The film tells the dramatic  story of laundress Assunta Spina (Francesca Bertini) engaged to a violent butcher Michele (Gustavo Serena) but courted by the handsome Raffaele (Luciano Albertini).  When, in a jealous rage, Michele slashes Assunta’s face with a knife the scene is set for high drama and tragedy.   The film reveals the spirit of Neapolitans, emphasizing their exuberance and passion but also their vengefulness and unrestrained reactions that often degenerate into violence.But Bertini and Serena are not the film’s only main characters: the unlucky laundress’s shawl, in Bertini’s skilled hands, comes to life and acts as a kind of metronome marking the various stages of the tragedy as it unfolds. When approached by the studio to star in the film, Bertini only accepted as long as she was also the film’s writer and director.  But Bertini demonstrated skill and sensitivity in this, her directorial debut.  Find out more at medium.com/cuny-fashion/film-review-assunta-spina . Presented as part of the Glasgow Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment by seven-piece band The Badwills.  St Andrew’s In The Square, Glasgow  Link

10 May

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.  Mill Arts Centre, Banbury  Link

11 May

The General  (Dir. Buster Keaton/Clyde Bruckman, 1926)  (Screening format – not known, 75mins)  Widely considered one of the greatest films ever made and one of the most revered comedies of the silent era, Buster Keaton’s effortless masterpiece sees hapless Southern railroad engineer Johnny Gray (Keaton) facing off against Union soldiers during the American Civil War. When Johnny’s fiancée, Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack), is accidentally taken away while on a train stolen by Northern forces, Gray pursues the soldiers, using various modes of transportation in comic action scenes that highlight Keaton’s boundless, innovative wit and joyful, lighthearted dexterity, to reclaim the train and thereby save the South. Find out more at  busterkeaton.com . With recorded score. Presented by the Swale Film Society.  Avenue Theatre, Sittingborne, Kent  Link

Oliver Twist (Dir. Frank Lloyd, US, 1922) (Screening format – not known, 74mins) Oliver Twist is brought up in the workhouse along with all the other orphans – until the day he asks for more gruel. An outraged Mr Bumble takes Oliver out into the street to be sold, beginning an adventure that will take Oliver to the depths of London’s criminal underworld and the heights of wealthy London society. Charles Dickens’ novel is brought to vivid life in this 1922 version starring Jackie Coogan (fresh from his success the year before in Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid), and the great Lon Chaney, the man of a thousand faces, as Fagin.  Find out more at tcm.com.   Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With a specially commissioned score from celebrated composer and musician Neil Brand, performed live by the Covent Garden Sinfonia conducted by Ben Palmer. Abbeydale Picture House, Sheffield Link

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. St Leonard’s Mission Church, Chesterfield  Link

12 May

Another Fine Mess – A Laurel and Hardy Triple Bill  Film titles TBC.  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live piano accompaniment from Neil Brand.  Abbeydale Picture House, Sheffield Link

The Hound of the Baskervilles (Dir. Maurice Elvey, UK, 1921) (Screening format – not known, 60 mins) Investigating the mysterious death of Charles Baskerville, Sherlock Holmes and his faithful assistant Dr Watson discover the existence of a terrifying supernatural hound roaming the dark hills of Dartmoor. Conan Doyle’s most famous Sherlock Holmes story is brought to spooky life in this 1921 British silent film, with Eille Norwood in the role of Holmes, a casting approved of by Conan Doyle himself.  This film was one of 45 shorts and 2 feature length films of the Sherlock Holmes stories made by Stoll Studios between 1921 and 1923, all featuring Norwood in the role of Holmes, giving him the record for the most appearances as Sherlock Holmes in film.   Find out more at imdb.com.  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment from Jonny Best (piano) and Trevor Bartlett (percussion).  Abbeydale Picture House, Sheffield Link

South (Dir. Frank Hurley, UK/Aus, 1919) (Screening format – not known, 88mins). Australian filmmaker Frank Hurley’s record of Shackleton’s 1914-17 Antarctic expedition is also a document of life – human and otherwise – striving to survive in the most adverse climatic conditions imaginable. More than a mere chronicle of an epic undertaking, the film is visually magnificent, its images of the vast frozen wilderness composed with a meticulous attention to framing and light.  Find out more at moviessilently.comPresented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment from Neil Brand.  Abbeydale Picture House, Sheffield   Link

French Cinema Double BillMenilmontant  (Dir. Dimitri Kirsanoff,  Fr, 1926) + L’invitation au Voyage (Dir. Germaine Dulac, Fr, 1927) (Screening format – 35/16mm, 38/37 mins)  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.ukOne of the major figures of the French film avant-garde of the 1920s and an early feminist, Germaine Dulac combined narratives of psychological realism with the visual techniques of the French Surrealist movement. In the rarely screened L’Invitation au Voyage, she employs a minimum of plot and maximum of atmosphere to convey her tale of the intense desire generated between a bored young wife and a handsome naval officer who meet in a Paris cabaret.  Find out more at  imdb.com.  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment from Sue Harding (foley), Rebecca Glover (foley), Jonny Best (piano).  Abbeydale Picture House, Sheffield Link

Beggars of Life (Dir. William Wellman, 1928) (Screning format – not known, 81 mins) Nancy (Louise Brooks), is a young woman on a farm who kills her foster father when he attempts to rape her. She is assisted in escaping from the farm by Jim (Richard Arlen), a young hobo who has stopped to ask for food. By dressing in rough men’s clothing, Nancy, with the assistance of Jim, eludes the police. They hop a freight train and, when thrown off by the brakeman, they wander into a hobo camp. The  hobo camp is run by Oklahoma Red (Wallace Beery), a villain….or maybe not!  Alternately action-packed and lyrical, and with a nail-biting final scene set atop a speeding train, Beggars of Life is an American classic.  Find out more at silentfilm.org .   Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment from harpist Elizabeth Jane Baldry.  Picture House, Hebden Bridge   Link

Speedy (Dir. Ted Wilde, US, 1928) (Screening format – Not known, 86mins) Harold Lloyd’s final silent film sees him reprise his ‘glasses character’ as a baseball-obsessed New Yorker (the film features a cameo from the legendary Babe Ruth) who becomes determined to save the city’s last horse-drawn streetcar, motivated in no small part by its owner being the grandfather of his love interest. Filled with Lloyd’s trademark rapid-fire visual humour and elaborate set-ups, it’s a fine example of his innovative approach to comedy. An engaging caper, shot on location in New York, Speedy shows off the city as it was in 1928, including a breathtaking sequence at Coney Island’s Luna Park and a hair-raising finale chase through the streets of Manhattan. Find out more at allmovie.com.  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment from Neil Brand.  Abbeydale Picture House, Sheffield Link 

The Unknown (Dir. Tod Browning, US, 1927) (Screening format – not known, 51 mins)  To escape the police, serial killer Alonzo poses in a sideshow as an armless wonder. He falls in love with Estrellita, and when his identity is discovered by her father, Alonzo kills him. Then, discovering that the girl abhors the touch of a man’s hand, he has both his arms amputated. Returning, he finds to his dismay that she has fallen in love with Malabar, the strong-man.  Is all lost for Alonzo….The Unknown was the sixth of ten collaborations between Chaney and director Tod Browning. Its circus theme was a favorite of Browning’s, both on and off screen.  Chaney was already “The Man of a Thousand Faces” when he appeared in The Unknown but in this film Chaney didn’t need to rely on heavy make-up to transform himself for a role. For The Unknown, Chaney reported, “I contrived to make myself look like an armless man, not simply to shock and horrify you but merely to bring to the screen a dramatic story of an armless man.”  Find out more at moviessilently.com .  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment from  Jonny Best (piano) and Trevor Bartlett (percussion). The film will be introduced by Vanessa Toulmin from the University of Sheffield.  Abbeydale Picture House, Sheffield Link

Salome (Dir. Charles Bryant, US, 1923) (Screening format – not known, 74mins) This  is a film adaptation of the Oscar Wilde play of the same name and is a loose retelling of the biblical story of King Herod and his execution of John the Baptist at the request of Herod’s stepdaughter, Salome, whom he lusts after.  The film stars Alla Nazimova who, though largely forgotten today, was an international sensation in the early 20th century. Born in Yalta in 1879, she studied acting at Constantin Stanislavski’s Moscow Arts Theatre in the 1890s. In 1907, she found acclaim on Broadway, where her groundbreaking performances in European Modernist plays by Anton Chekov, August Strindberg and Henrik Ibsen generated millions of dollars. Six years later, Metro put Nazimova under contract at $13,000 per week, making her the highest-salaried actress in the industry.   The highly stylized costumes, exaggerated acting, minimal sets, and absence of all but the most necessary props in Salome make for a screen image much more focused on atmosphere and on conveying a sense of the characters’ individual heightened desires than on conventional plot development and as such it has been labelled by some as one of the first ‘art films’ to be made in the US.  But for all its style, the film was a popular failure and a financial disaster for Nazimova who had bankrolled its production and from which she never really recovered.  But in the years since, its weirdly beautiful atmosphere and aesthetic – combining Art Nouveau, modernism and the glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age – have led to its growing recognition as an exotic gem, and a cornerstone of camp.  To find out more see www.loc.gov.   With live musical accompaniment by Circuit des Yeux’s Haley Fohr and her band performing a newly commissioned original soundtrack. Howard Assembly Rooms, Leeds Link

13 May

Man With a Movie Camera (Dir. Dziga Vertov, USSR, 1929) (Screening format – not known, 68mins) Part documentary and part cinematic art, this film follows a city in the 1920s Soviet Union throughout the day, from morning to night. Directed by Vertov, with a variety of complex and innovative camera shots (filmed by Vertov’s equally talented and innovative brother Mikhail Kaufman), the film depicts scenes of ordinary daily life in Russia. Vertov celebrates the modernity of the city, with its vast buildings, dense population and bustling industries. While there are no titles or narration, director and cameraman still naturally convey the marvels of the modern city.  Find out more at rogerebert.com .  With live musical accompaniment by electro-improvisational group GrokGenesis Cinema, London  Link

Another Fine Mess – A Laurel and Hardy Triple Bill  Film titles TBC.  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live piano accompaniment from Jonny Best.  St Margaret’s Church, York Link

Sunrise; A Song of Two Humans (Dir. F W Murnau, US, 1927) (Screening format – not known, 94mins) F W Murnau’s debut American film, made at the technical zenith of the silent era  but already heralding the arrival of the talkies being one of the first silents made with synchronized musical score and sound effects soundtrack.  The simple story of a husband’s betrayal of his wife with a treacherous city girl, Sunrise moves from a fairytale-like depiction of rural life to a dynamic portrait of the bustling modern American city. Explored in elaborate tracking shots by Charles Rocher and Karl Struss’s pioneering camerawork, the city set was one of the most costly yet produced.  The result was a commercial flop, though the achievement did not go unheralded: Sunrise was awarded a special Oscar for unique and artistic production at the first ever Academy Awards and Janet Gaynor won the first Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.  The film’s legacy has endured, and it is now widely considered a masterpiece with many calling it the greatest film of the silent era. Find out more at theguardian.com.  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live accompaniment from harpist Elizabeth-Jane Baldry.  National Centre for Early Music, York Link

Shiraz (Dir. Franz Osten, 1928) (Screening format – not known, 97mins) Based on a play by Indian author Niranjan Pal, Shiraz tells the fictionalised love story of the 17th-century princess who inspired the construction of the Taj Mahal.  It was directed by Germany’s Franz Osten, one of at least 17 films he made in India between 1925 and 1939, best known of which are The Light of Asia (1925) and A Throw of Dice (1929).  Shot entirely on location in India with an all-Indian cast, it features lavish costumes and gorgeous settings – all the more impressive in this restoration by the BFI National Archive with specially-commisioned score. The film was the brainchild of producer Himansu Rai, who also stars as humble potter Shiraz, who follows his childhood sweetheart (Enakshi Rama Rau) when she’s sold by slave traders to the future emperor (Charu Roy). Upon its release Shiraz was a considerable critical and popular success and received rave reviews when the restored version was screened at last year’s London Film Festival.  Find out more at silentfilm.org Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live accompaniment by internationally acclaimed pianist Utsav Lal (making his silent-film score debut).  Showroom Cinema, Sheffield Link

Underground (Dir. Anthony Asquith, GB, 1928) (Screening format – not known, 84 mins) In 1920s London, during a normal hectic day on the Underground, mild mannered Northern Line porter Bill (Brian Aherne) falls for shop worker Nell (Elissa Landi). But their relationship is threatened by power station worker Burt (Cyril McLaglan) who also has eyes for Nell.  Consumed by jealousy, Burt plots to discredit Bill with a plan that results in a daring chase through London’s underground and across rooftops of the city.  Although Underground was only Asquith‘s second film  he handles the melodramatic story with confidence and great sophistication.  Underground is a rare study of 1920s working-class London, and offers a fascinating and historically interesting glimpse of its public transport system.  Find out more at screenonline.org.uk.  With live piano accompaniment from Neil Brand.  Barbican, London  Link

14 May

Oliver Twist (Dir. Frank Lloyd, US, 1922) (Screening format – not known, 74mins) Oliver Twist is brought up in the workhouse along with all the other orphans – until the day he asks for more gruel. An outraged Mr Bumble takes Oliver out into the street to be sold, beginning an adventure that will take Oliver to the depths of London’s criminal underworld and the heights of wealthy London society. Charles Dickens’ novel is brought to vivid life in this 1922 version starring Jackie Coogan (fresh from his success the year before in Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid), and the great Lon Chaney, the man of a thousand faces, as Fagin.  Find out more at tcm.com.   Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment by Jonny Best (piano), Elizabeth-Jane Baldry (harp).  Trinity Church, Ossett, Yorks Link

15 May

Oliver Twist (Dir. Frank Lloyd, US, 1922) (Screening format – not known, 74mins) Oliver Twist is brought up in the workhouse along with all the other orphans – until the day he asks for more gruel. An outraged Mr Bumble takes Oliver out into the street to be sold, beginning an adventure that will take Oliver to the depths of London’s criminal underworld and the heights of wealthy London society. Charles Dickens’ novel is brought to vivid life in this 1922 version starring Jackie Coogan (fresh from his success the year before in Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid), and the great Lon Chaney, the man of a thousand faces, as Fagin.  Find out more at tcm.com.   Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment by Jonny Best (piano), Elizabeth-Jane Baldry (harp). Choppards Mission, Holmfirth, Yorks Link

Brighton: Symphony Of A City (Dir. Lizzie Thynne, UK, 2015) (Screening format – not known, 48 mins).  The daily activities and extraordinary events in the seaside town of Brighton are evocatively captured in modern silent Brighton: Symphony Of A City,  wittily echoing the silent classic, Berlin Symphony of a City (1927). All-weather bathers plunge into winter seas at sunrise. Residents work, commute, flirt and play and do surprising things in their offices. Homelessness and gentrification collide; we glimpse forgotten attractions in sparkling amateur movies from Screen Archive South East. ‘Father Neptune’ is dunked in a raucous ritual from 1951; 1930s marchers celebrate the anniversary of the Soviet Union and modern protestors commemorate Gaza. The elegant ferris wheel, a contemporary icon destined for destruction, marks the passage of time. The day culminates in night-time revelry, astounding puppetry and the winter solstice festival, ‘The Burning of the Clocks’. A kaleidoscopic view of this unique seaside town, which evokes the past in the present and the extraordinary in the everyday. Brighton Symphony of a City was a Brighton Festival Commission for its 50th anniversary in 2016 where it premiered with a live performance of the score by the Orchestra of Sound and Light.  Find out more at brightonsymphony.com.      Brighton: Symphony Of A City features a recorded score by composer Ed Hughes performed by the Orchestra of Sound and Light.   Deptford Cinema, London E8 Link

16 May

Beggars of Life (Dir. William Wellman, 1928) (Screning format – not known, 81 mins) Nancy (Louise Brooks), is a young woman on a farm who kills her foster father when he attempts to rape her. She is assisted in escaping from the farm by Jim (Richard Arlen), a young hobo who has stopped to ask for food. By dressing in rough men’s clothing, Nancy, with the assistance of Jim, eludes the police. They hop a freight train and, when thrown off by the brakeman, they wander into a hobo camp. The  hobo camp is run by Oklahoma Red (Wallace Beery), a villain….or maybe not!  Alternately action-packed and lyrical, and with a nail-biting final scene set atop a speeding train, Beggars of Life is an American classic.  Find out more at silentfilm.org .   Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment from harpist Elizabeth Jane Baldry. Royal British Legion, Marsden, Yorks. Link

Salome (Dir. Charles Bryant, US, 1923) (Screening format – not known, 74mins) This  is a film adaptation of the Oscar Wilde play of the same name and is a loose retelling of the biblical story of King Herod and his execution of John the Baptist at the request of Herod’s stepdaughter, Salome, whom he lusts after.  The film stars Alla Nazimova who, though largely forgotten today, was an international sensation in the early 20th century. Born in Yalta in 1879, she studied acting at Constantin Stanislavski’s Moscow Arts Theatre in the 1890s. In 1907, she found acclaim on Broadway, where her groundbreaking performances in European Modernist plays by Anton Chekov, August Strindberg and Henrik Ibsen generated millions of dollars. Six years later, Metro put Nazimova under contract at $13,000 per week, making her the highest-salaried actress in the industry.   The highly stylized costumes, exaggerated acting, minimal sets, and absence of all but the most necessary props in Salome make for a screen image much more focused on atmosphere and on conveying a sense of the characters’ individual heightened desires than on conventional plot development and as such it has been labelled by some as one of the first ‘art films’ to be made in the US.  But for all its style, the film was a popular failure and a financial disaster for Nazimova who had bankrolled its production and from which she never really recovered.  But in the years since, its weirdly beautiful atmosphere and aesthetic – combining Art Nouveau, modernism and the glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age – have led to its growing recognition as an exotic gem, and a cornerstone of camp.  To find out more see www.loc.gov.  With live musical accompaniment by Haley Fohr of experimental folk project Circuit des Yeux.  Barbican, London Link

17 May

Der Rosenkavalier (Dir. Robert Wiene, Aust, 1926) (Screening format – not known, 105mins)  A silent film version of the opera of the same name composed in 1911 by  Richard Strauss.  The film premiered in 1926 at the Dresden opera house with Strauss himself conducting a modified version of his original score.  Long thought lost, the film was rediscovered in the 1970s and painstakingly restored.  Find out more at wikipedia.org.  The screening will be accompanied live by a recreation of Strauss’ original film score performed by the Orchestra of the Enlightenment, conducted by Geoffrey Paterson.   Southbank Centre, London Link

Professor Vanessa’s Performing Wonders Yorkshire Silent Film Festival is taking part in a nationwide celebration of the 250th anniversary of circus. Professor Vanessa’s Performing Wonders features early films of dancing pigs, eye-popping circus performers, balancing wonders and other amazing sights. This extravagant musical showcase of the late-Victorian and Edwardian performance will be introduced by Professor Vanessa herself.  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  Curated and presented by Vanessa Toulmin.  Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough  Link

Hamlet (Dir. Svend Gade/Heinz Schall, Ger, 1921) (Screening format – not known, 130mins) A unique vision of the cursed Dane, this silent take on Shakespeare’s drama stands the test of time thanks to a unique and brilliant twist.  Starring the gorgeous Danish siren Asta Nielsen this adaption supposes that Hamlet’s inner turmoil centred on having been born a girl but having to pass incognito as the male heir to the throne.   Find out more at silentsplease.wordpress.com Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live accompaniment from harpist Elizabeth-Jane Baldry.  Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough Link

0º00 Navigation and Buster Keaton in The Railrodder Simon Faithfull is an artist whose work has been directly influenced by Buster Keaton. Like Keaton, Faithfull often appears on screen within his work as a lone, blank-faced figure and both Faithfull and Keaton are often on doomed or absurd quests that usually end in disappointment. In the first half of the evening, Simon Faithfull introduces a screening of his film 0º00 Navigation, which is in part a homage to Keaton and records an obsessive and deranged journey exactly along the Greenwich Meridian (the 0º line of Longitude). To follow, a rare opportunity to see one of Buster Keaton’s last film appearances in the 1965 Canadian short The Railrodder, in which Keaton doggedly crosses Canada from east to west on a railway track speeder.  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival. Both films will have live musical accompaniment and a post-screening Q&A with artist Simon Faithfull.  Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds  Link

18 May

Beggars of Life (Dir. William Wellman, 1928) (Screening format – not known, 81 mins) Nancy (Louise Brooks), is a young woman on a farm who kills her foster father when he attempts to rape her. She is assisted in escaping from the farm by Jim (Richard Arlen), a young hobo who has stopped to ask for food. By dressing in rough men’s clothing, Nancy, with the assistance of Jim, eludes the police. They hop a freight train and, when thrown off by the brakeman, they wander into a hobo camp. The  hobo camp is run by Oklahoma Red (Wallace Beery), a villain….or maybe not!  Alternately action-packed and lyrical, and with a nail-biting final scene set atop a speeding train, Beggars of Life is an American classic.  Find out more at silentfilm.org .   Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment from Jonny Best (piano), Jacqui Wicks (ukeleke/voice), Seonaid Mathieson (violin). Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough Link

Man With a Movie Camera (Dir. Dziga Vertov, USSR, 1929) (Screening format – not known, 68mins) Part documentary and part cinematic art, this film follows a city in the 1920s Soviet Union throughout the day, from morning to night. Directed by Vertov, with a variety of complex and innovative camera shots (filmed by Vertov’s equally talented and innovative brother Mikhail Kaufman), the film depicts scenes of ordinary daily life in Russia. Vertov celebrates the modernity of the city, with its vast buildings, dense population and bustling industries. While there are no titles or narration, director and cameraman still naturally convey the marvels of the modern city.  Find out more at rogerebert.com .  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment from Laurene Durantel (bass, piano, vocals).   Showroom Cinema, Sheffield Link

Nosferatu (Dir. F W Murnau, 1922) (Screening format – not known, 96mins) 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 by acclaimed musicians Minima. Sacred Heart Church, Tamworth, Staffs  Link

19 May

The Passion of Jon of Arc (Dir. Carl Theodore Dreyer, 1928) (Screening format – not known, 82 mins)  In 1926 Danish film director Dreyer was invited to make a film in France by the Societe Generale des Films and chose to direct a film about Joan of Arc, due to her renewed popularity in France (having been canonised as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church in 1920 and subsequently adopted as one of the patron saints of France).  Apparently discarding a script provided by the Societe, Dreyer spent over a year researching Joan of Arc including study of the actual transcripts of her trial before producing a script of his own.  In the title role Dreyer cast the little-known stage actress Renee Jeanne Falconnetti who had previously acted in just two previous, inconsequential films, both back in 1917.  The film focuses upon the trial and eventual execution of Joan of Arc after she is captured by the English.  Although not a popular success at the time, the film attracted immediate critical praise.  The New York Times critic wrote “…as a film work of art, this takes precedence over anything so far produced.  It makes worthy pictures of the past look like tinsel shams.  It fills one with such intense admiration that other pictures appear but trivial in comparison.” Falconnetti’s performance has been widely lauded with critic Pauline Kael writing in 1982 that her portrayal “…may be the finest performance ever recorded on film.”  The film was subsequently re-edited against Dreyer’s wishes and his original version was long thought lost.  But in 1981 a near perfect copy was found in the attic of a psychiatric hospital in Oslo.  The Passion of Joan of Arc now regularly appears in ‘Top Ten’ lists not just of silent films but best films of all time.  Find out more at rogerebert.com . With recorded score.  Close-Up Cinema, London E1 Link

Kevin Brownlow Film Night  As a patron of the Cinema Museum and leading light in the Kennington Bioscope, Kevin needs little introduction. His career has a host of achievements in many fields: film collector; film director – It Happened Here (1964), Winstanley (1975); editor – The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968); film historian in print – The Parade’s Gone By (1968), David Lean (1996) – and on television – Hollywood (1979); and as a film restorer, most notably of Abel Gance’s epic Napoléon (1927). In nominating him for an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement in 2010, Martin Scorsese described him as “a giant among film historians and preservationists, known and justifiably respected throughout the world for his multiple achievements”.  Interviewed by silent film pianist and composer, Kevin will be selecting some of his favourite film clips and some of his choices may come as a surprise!   Cinema Museum, Lambeth, London  Link

Speedy (Dir. Ted Wilde, US, 1928) (Screening format – Not known, 86mins) Harold Lloyd’s final silent film sees him reprise his ‘glasses character’ as a baseball-obsessed New Yorker (the film features a cameo from the legendary Babe Ruth) who becomes determined to save the city’s last horse-drawn streetcar, motivated in no small part by its owner being the grandfather of his love interest. Filled with Lloyd’s trademark rapid-fire visual humour and elaborate set-ups, it’s a fine example of his innovative approach to comedy. An engaging caper, shot on location in New York, Speedy shows off the city as it was in 1928, including a breathtaking sequence at Coney Island’s Luna Park and a hair-raising finale chase through the streets of Manhattan. Find out more at allmovie.com.  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment from Jonny Best.  Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough Link

20 May

Silent Film Accompaniment Workshop   Musicians from Yorkshire Silent Film Festival will lead a fun, practical workshop performing live musical accompaniment to silent film. Working with a selection of silent film scenes, we’ll create a score as a group and then perform it.  The workshop is suitable for musicians of all types and levels of experience.   Organised as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  Chapel FM Arts Centre, Leeds   Link

Another Fine Mess – A Laurel and Hardy Triple Bill  Film titles TBC.  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live piano accompaniment from Donald Sosin.  Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds Link

The Unknown (Dir. Tod Browning, US, 1927) (Screening format – not known, 51 mins)  To escape the police, serial killer Alonzo poses in a sideshow as an armless wonder. He falls in love with Estrellita, and when his identity is discovered by her father, Alonzo kills him. Then, discovering that the girl abhors the touch of a man’s hand, he has both his arms amputated. Returning, he finds to his dismay that she has fallen in love with Malabar, the strong-man.  Is all lost for Alonzo….The Unknown was the sixth of ten collaborations between Chaney and director Tod Browning. Its circus theme was a favorite of Browning’s, both on and off screen.  Chaney was already “The Man of a Thousand Faces” when he appeared in The Unknown but in this film Chaney didn’t need to rely on heavy make-up to transform himself for a role. For The Unknown, Chaney reported, “I contrived to make myself look like an armless man, not simply to shock and horrify you but merely to bring to the screen a dramatic story of an armless man.”  Find out more at moviessilently.com .  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment from  Jonny Best (piano) and Trevor Bartlett (percussion). Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds Link

French Cinema Double BillMenilmontant  (Dir. Dimitri Kirsanoff,  Fr, 1926) + La Souriante Madame Beudet (The Smiling Madame Beudet) (Dir.  Germaine Dulac, Fr, 1923)  (Screening format – 35/16mm, 38/38 mins)  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.ukOne of the first feminist movies, The Smiling Madame Beudet is the story of an intelligent woman trapped in a loveless marriage. Her husband is used to playing a stupid practical joke in which he puts an empty revolver to his head and threatens to shoot himself. One day, while the husband is away, she puts bullets in the revolver……..Find out more at houseofmirthandmovies.wordpress.com . Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment from Sue Harding (foley), Rebecca Glover (foley), Jonny Best (piano). Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds  Link

Hamlet (Dir. Svend Gade/Heinz Schall, Ger, 1921) (Screening format – not known, 130mins) A unique vision of the cursed Dane, this silent take on Shakespeare’s drama stands the test of time thanks to a unique and brilliant twist.  Starring the gorgeous Danish siren Asta Nielsen this adaption supposes that Hamlet’s inner turmoil centred on having been born a girl but having to pass incognito as the male heir to the throne.   Find out more at silentsplease.wordpress.com Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live accompaniment from pianist Donald Sosin.  Film introduced by Judith Buchanan, University of York.  Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds.     Link

21 May

Professor Vanessa’s Performing Wonders Yorkshire Silent Film Festival is taking part in a nationwide celebration of the 250th anniversary of circus. Professor Vanessa’s Performing Wonders features early films of dancing pigs, eye-popping circus performers, balancing wonders and other amazing sights. This extravagant musical showcase of the late-Victorian and Edwardian performance will be introduced by Professor Vanessa herself.  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  Curated and presented by Vanessa Toulmin.  Huddersfield Ukrainian Club, Huddersfield  Link

22 May

Beggars of Life (Dir. William Wellman, 1928) (Screening format – not known, 81 mins) Nancy (Louise Brooks), is a young woman on a farm who kills her foster father when he attempts to rape her. She is assisted in escaping from the farm by Jim (Richard Arlen), a young hobo who has stopped to ask for food. By dressing in rough men’s clothing, Nancy, with the assistance of Jim, eludes the police. They hop a freight train and, when thrown off by the brakeman, they wander into a hobo camp. The  hobo camp is run by Oklahoma Red (Wallace Beery), a villain….or maybe not!  Alternately action-packed and lyrical, and with a nail-biting final scene set atop a speeding train, Beggars of Life is an American classic.  Find out more at silentfilm.org .   Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment from Jonny Best (piano), Jacqui Wicks (ukeleke/voice), Seonaid Mathieson (violin). Leyburn Arts Centre, The Old School House, Leyburn Link

Speedy (Dir. Ted Wilde, US, 1928) (Screening format – Not known, 86mins) Harold Lloyd’s final silent film sees him reprise his ‘glasses character’ as a baseball-obsessed New Yorker (the film features a cameo from the legendary Babe Ruth) who becomes determined to save the city’s last horse-drawn streetcar, motivated in no small part by its owner being the grandfather of his love interest. Filled with Lloyd’s trademark rapid-fire visual humour and elaborate set-ups, it’s a fine example of his innovative approach to comedy. An engaging caper, shot on location in New York, Speedy shows off the city as it was in 1928, including a breathtaking sequence at Coney Island’s Luna Park and a hair-raising finale chase through the streets of Manhattan. Find out more at allmovie.com.  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment from Donald Sosin.  Victoria Hall Kirkgate Settle Link

22 May – 9 June

The Biograph Girl – by Warner Brown and David Heneker.  Commissioned by the Finborough Theatre as part of their acclaimed ‘Celebrating British Music Theatre’ series, this will be the first professional UK production of this musical since its 1980 premiere.   From the composer of Half A Sixpence, it is a joyous musical celebration of Hollywood’s glorious era of silent film – beginning in 1912 when disreputable “flickers” are shown in fleapits and no self-respecting actor will appear in them, and ending in 1927 with movies now a glamorous, multi-million dollar industry and the first talking pictures signal the doom of silent films.  In a breath taking sweep of just fifteen years, the great innovative directors created filmmaking as we know it today, ground breaking movie moguls laid the foundations of the entertainment industry, and trail blazing actors launched the Hollywood star system.   Weaving together the heartbreaks and triumphs of the flawed genius director D. W. Griffith and the first movie stars Lilian Gish and Mary Pickford, The Biograph Girl is a love letter to the stardust and scandals of the silent movie era.  Finborough Theatre, London SW10   Link

23 May

Dawson City – Frozen Time (Dir. Bill Morrison, US, 2016) This documentary pieces together the bizarre true story of a collection of some 500 films dating from 1910s – 1920s, which were lost for over 50 years until discovered buried in a sub-arctic swimming pool deep in the Yukon Territory, in Dawson City, located about 350 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Using these permafrost protected, rare silent films and newsreels, archival footage, interviews and historical photographs to tell the story, and accompanied by an enigmatic score by Sigur Rós collaborator and composer Alex Somers (Captain Fantastic), Dawson City: Frozen Time depicts a unique history of a Canadian gold rush town by chronicling the life cycle of a singular film collection through its exile, burial, rediscovery, and salvation – and through that collection, how a First Nation hunting camp was transformed and displaced. Find out more at picturepalacepictures.com Curzon, Oxford Link

Another Fine Mess – A Laurel and Hardy Triple Bill  Film titles TBC.  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live piano accompaniment from Donald Sosin.  Ritz Cinema, Thirsk Link

The Late Mathias Pascal (Dir. Marcel L’Herbier, Fr, 1926) (Screening format – not known, 171mins) Mathias Pascal (Ivan Mosjoukine), only son of a once rich family, marries beautiful Romalinda, but his wife’s mother soon  makes both his home life and his job as assistant librarian in his home town a nightmare.  Shocked by the death of both his own mother and his son, Pascal sneaks off to  Monte Carlo, where he wins a fortune at the Casino. Returning home, he reads his own obituary in a paper. A body found  in a creek is mistakenly believed to be Pascal.  Mathias, now apparently free from all ties to his old live, decides to start a new one, and moves to Rome.  But fate has much more in store for Mathias Pascal.  Find out more at tcm.com.  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment from Jonny Best (piano), James Wood (percussion) & Trevor Bartlett (vibraphone). The screening will be introduced by Elisabetta Girelli from University of St Andrews.  Showroom Cinema, Sheffield Link

The Spanish Dancer (Dir. Herbert Brennon, US, 1923) (Screening format – not known, ??mins)  Directed for Famous Players-Lasky by Herbert Brenon, The Spanish Dancer was one of those films which, through circumstance, finds itself competing directly with another production telling essentially the same story, in this instance the Mary Pickford vehicle Rosita, directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Contemporary opinion favoured The Spanish Dancer, starring Antonio Moreno and Pola Negri as, respectively, a 17th century nobleman and the seductive dancer, Maritana, who wins his heart. Wallace Beery plays the amorous King whose advances Maritana must repel. The screenplay was adapted by June Mathis and Beulah Mary Dix from the stage play Don César de Bazan by Philippe François Pinel and Adolphe Philippe d’Ennery. Photography was by James Wong Howe. The Spanish Dancer was restored by the Eye Institute in the Netherlands, through whose courtesy this screening has been made possible.  Find out more at silentfilm.org.  A Kennington Bioscope presentation.  With live musical accompaniment.  The Cinema Museum, Lambeth.  Link

24 May

Speedy (Dir. Ted Wilde, US, 1928) (Screening format – Not known, 86mins) Harold Lloyd’s final silent film sees him reprise his ‘glasses character’ as a baseball-obsessed New Yorker (the film features a cameo from the legendary Babe Ruth) who becomes determined to save the city’s last horse-drawn streetcar, motivated in no small part by its owner being the grandfather of his love interest. Filled with Lloyd’s trademark rapid-fire visual humour and elaborate set-ups, it’s a fine example of his innovative approach to comedy. An engaging caper, shot on location in New York, Speedy shows off the city as it was in 1928, including a breathtaking sequence at Coney Island’s Luna Park and a hair-raising finale chase through the streets of Manhattan. Find out more at allmovie.com.  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment from Neil Brand.  Hebden Bridge Picture House, Hebden Bridge  Link

The Artist (Dir.  Michel Hazanavicius, Fr, 2011)  (Screening format – not known, 100  mins) A ‘modern’ black and white silent, the story takes place in Hollywood, between 1927 and 1932. Outside a movie premiere, enthusiastic fan Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) literally bumps into the swashbuckling hero of the silent film, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin). The star reacts graciously and Peppy plants a kiss on his cheek as they are surrounded by photographers. The headlines demand: “Who’s that girl?” and Peppy is inspired to audition for a dancing bit-part at the studio. However as Peppy slowly rises through the industry, the introduction of talking-pictures turns Valentin’s world upside-down.  It was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won five, including Best Picture.  Oh, and Uggie the dog makes a great co-star.  Find out more at  rogerebert.com . A Kennington Classics presentation.   The Cinema Museum, Lambeth. Link

25 May

The Mark of Zorro (Dir. Fred Niblo, US, 1920) (Screening format – not known, 90mins) The mysterious Zorro – who he is, nobody knows. Appearing as if from nowhere, clad all in black, sword flashing, he defends the weak and strikes fear into the hearts of villains throughout the land as he carves his trademark ‘Z’ into the cheek of his opponent. The Hollywood adventure movie began here, with the greatest swashbuckler of them all, Douglas Fairbanks. The Mark of Zorro is silent cinema at its most dashing and romantic.  The film was produced by Fairbanks for his own production company, Douglas Fairbanks Pictures Corporation, and was the first film released through United Artists, the company formed by Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and D W Griffith.  Fairbanks biographer Jeffrey Vance, assessing the film’s legacy in 2008, writes: “The Mark of Zorro is a landmark, not only in the career of Douglas Fairbanks, but also in the development of the action adventure film. With this, his thirtieth motion picture, Fairbanks was transitioning from comedies to the costume films for which he is best remembered. Instead of reflecting the times,The Mark of Zorro offers an infusion of the romantic past with a contemporary flair….Beyond reenergizing his career and redefining a genre, Fairbanks’s The Mark of Zorro helped popularize one of the enduring creations of twentieth-century American fiction, a character who was the prototype for comic book heroes such as Batman.”  Find out more at  moviessilently.comPresented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment from Donald Sosin (piano) and Joanna Seaton (vocals).  Leyburn Arts Centre The Old School House, Leyburn Link

South (Dir. Frank Hurley, UK/Aus, 1919) (Screening format – not known, 88mins). Australian filmmaker Frank Hurley’s record of Shackleton’s 1914-17 Antarctic expedition is also a document of life – human and otherwise – striving to survive in the most adverse climatic conditions imaginable. More than a mere chronicle of an epic undertaking, the film is visually magnificent, its images of the vast frozen wilderness composed with a meticulous attention to framing and light.  Find out more at moviessilently.comPresented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment from Jonny Best (piano) and Trevor Bartlett (percussion).  Hull Truck Theatre, Hull Link

26 May

Professor Vanessa’s Performing Wonders Yorkshire Silent Film Festival is taking part in a nationwide celebration of the 250th anniversary of circus. Professor Vanessa’s Performing Wonders features early films of dancing pigs, eye-popping circus performers, balancing wonders and other amazing sights. This extravagant musical showcase of the late-Victorian and Edwardian performance will be introduced by Professor Vanessa herself.  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  Curated and presented by Vanessa Toulmin.  Hull Truck Theatre, Hull  Link

Speedy (Dir. Ted Wilde, US, 1928) (Screening format – Not known, 86mins) Harold Lloyd’s final silent film sees him reprise his ‘glasses character’ as a baseball-obsessed New Yorker (the film features a cameo from the legendary Babe Ruth) who becomes determined to save the city’s last horse-drawn streetcar, motivated in no small part by its owner being the grandfather of his love interest. Filled with Lloyd’s trademark rapid-fire visual humour and elaborate set-ups, it’s a fine example of his innovative approach to comedy. An engaging caper, shot on location in New York, Speedy shows off the city as it was in 1928, including a breathtaking sequence at Coney Island’s Luna Park and a hair-raising finale chase through the streets of Manhattan. Find out more at allmovie.com.  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment from Jonny Best (piano).  Hull Truck Theatre, Hull Link

Prix de Beaute (Dir. Augusto Genino, Italy, 1929) (Screening format – not known, 113 mins) Louise Brooks  plays Lucienne Garnier, an office typist who enters a beauty contest.  When her jealous fiancé Andre (Georges Chalia) expresses his contempt for beauty contests she tries to withdraw but it is too late and she wins.  Unbeknownst to Andre she leaves for Spain where she is entered in the Miss Europe contest.  When Andre finds out he follows.  By the time he arrives she has won the contest and is being courted by various rich socialites. Andre gives her an ultimatum, return home with him or they are through.  But having experienced the highs of fame she now finds domestic life in Paris dull and tedious.  The reappearance of one of her rich new acquaintances  with the offer of a movie contract proves tempting but could also lead to tragedy. The last and least well known of Louise Brooks’ three forays into European film making, this is a beautiful film which offers Brooks huge scope to demonstrate the full range of her acting ability.  Not to be missed.  Find out more at silentfilm.org Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  With live musical accompaniment.  Showroom Cinema, Sheffield  Link

  27 May

Steamboat Bill Jr   (Dir. Buster Keaton/Charles Reisner, US, 1928)   (Screening format – not known,  71  mins)  In Steamboat Bill Jr a crusty river boat captain hopes that his long departed son’s return will help him compete with a business rival.  Unfortunately, William Canfield Jnr (Buster Keaton) is an effete college boy.  Worse still, he has fallen for the business rival’s daughter (Marion Byron).     Featuring some of Buster’s finest and most dangerous stunts, it’s a health and safety nightmare maybe but it’s entertainment that will live forever.  The final storm sequence is still as breathtaking today as it was on first release. Not a commercial success at the time, this is now rightly regarded as a Keaton classic. Find out more at Wikipedia With live piano accompaniment by Lillian Henley.  Palace Cinema, Broadstairs, Kent Link

Empire (Dir. Andy Warhol, US, 1964) (Screening format – not known, 485 mins)  The 3rd Yorkshire Silent Film Festival reaches its finale with the first UK cinema screening of Andy Warhol’s notorious, almost-never-seen minimalist epic, Empire (1964).   Empire consists of a single stationary shot of the Empire State Building filmed from 8:06 p.m. to 2:42 a.m., July 25–26, 1964. The passage from daylight to darkness becomes the film’s narrative, while the protagonist is the iconic building that was  the tallest in New York City. According to Warhol, the point of this film—perhaps his most famous and influential cinematic work—is to “see time go by.”  This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a classic of experimental cinema.  Find out more at wikipedia.org  Presented as part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.  Complementing the film will be newly composed original music by Monty Adkins.  Abbeydale Picture House, Sheffield Link

The Silent Pianist Speaks  Musician, writer and broadcaster Neil Brand, (BBC’s The Film Programme, Sound of Cinema, Music that made the Movies) celebrates the great filmmakers of the Silent Era and the magic of the accompanists who breathed life and sound into their work. From the earliest, earthiest comedies and thrillers, through a silent cine-verité classic shot by a young Billy Wilder, to the glories of Hollywood glamour and the sublime Laurel and Hardy. Neil provides improvised accompaniment and laconic commentary on everything from deep focus to his own live cinema disasters. Presented as part of the Ashmolean’s American Cool festival.  Oxford Playhouse, Oxford Link

May 28

The Cameraman (Dir. Edward Sedgwick/Buster Keaton, US, 1928) + One Week (Dir. Buster Keaton/Eddie Cline, US,  1920)   (Screening format – not known, 67/19mins) Buster (Buster Keaton) meets Sally (Marceline Day), who works as a secretary for the newsreel department at MGM, and falls hard. Trying to win her attention, Buster abandons photography in order to become a news cameraman. In spite of his early failures with a motion camera, Sally takes to him as well. However, veteran cameraman Stagg (Harold Goodwin) also fancies Sally, meaning Buster will need to learn how to film quickly before he loses his job.  Find out more at slantmagazine.com. One Week sees Buster and his new bride struggling with a pre-fabricated home unaware that his bride’s former suitor has renumbered all of the boxes.  Find out more at wikipedia.org .  With live organ accompaniment from Donald MacKenzie.  Regent Street Cinema, London Link

29 May

Dawson City – Frozen Time (Dir. Bill Morrison, US, 2016) This documentary pieces together the bizarre true story of a collection of some 500 films dating from 1910s – 1920s, which were lost for over 50 years until discovered buried in a sub-arctic swimming pool deep in the Yukon Territory, in Dawson City, located about 350 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Using these permafrost protected, rare silent films and newsreels, archival footage, interviews and historical photographs to tell the story, and accompanied by an enigmatic score by Sigur Rós collaborator and composer Alex Somers (Captain Fantastic), Dawson City: Frozen Time depicts a unique history of a Canadian gold rush town by chronicling the life cycle of a singular film collection through its exile, burial, rediscovery, and salvation – and through that collection, how a First Nation hunting camp was transformed and displaced. Find out more at picturepalacepictures.com    David Lean Cinema, Croydon Link

 


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