Sunday, April 6, 2008

Silent Film Fest 2008

Here's what's coming up this July at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. . . . I hope to be there.

SAN FRANCISCO, March 31, 2008 - Harold Lloyd, Lon Chaney, Joan Crawford, Colleen Moore, Teinosuke Kinugasa and Carl Theodor Dreyer are just a few of the legendary stars and directors who will return to the big screen, all accompanied by live music, at The 13th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival, July 11-13. “Many of the filmmakers and actors whose films were featuring this year were groundbreaking artists and stars of the first magnitude in the 1920s,” said Artistic Director Stephen Salmons.

The enduring vitality of their movies will be given added emphasis at this years festival with the debut of a new program: Directors Pick, at which a contemporary filmmaker will present a favorite silent film. To inaugurate the series, Guy Maddin director of The Saddest Music in the WorldBrand Upon the Brain! and My Winnipeg will preside over a late-night screening of Tod Brownings horror-ode to unrequited love, THE UNKNOWN (1927), starring Lon Chaney and Joan Crawford. It’s practically my favorite silent film, Guy Maddin said. I lead off my syllabus with that film every year, I love it so.

Also appearing at this year’s event to share his enthusiasm for the silent era will be famed movie historian and critic Leonard Maltin, who said of the festival, “(Its) a shining example of how to present great films, rarities, and informational conversations about film preservation for a large and appreciative audience.”

Other highlights of this year’s three-day, thirteen-program celebration of silent film include the Opening Night Presentation of Harold Lloyds comedy THE KID BROTHER (1927), to be shown in a beautiful tinted print from the UCLA Film & Television Archive. “It’s the perfect opener because it has everything: a great story, characters we genuinely care about, romance, action and, of course, non-stop laughs,” Salmons said. Lloyd considered it to be his best film, and its hailed as his masterpiece.

The number one box-office attraction of 1926 will make her debut appearance at the festival: Colleen Moore, star of HER WILD OAT (1927), a fast-paced, wise-cracking romantic comedy. Few of Colleen Moores films survive in any form, and HER WILD OAT was among the lost until two years ago, when a 35mm print was located in the Czech National Film Archive and given a major restoration by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Archive. “We’re excited to present this film because it’s both a wonderful showcase for Colleen Moore’s effervescent comedic skills, and it’s a first-rate example of what we all gain from film preservation,” said Salmons.

Several directors of major significance will be featured at the festival for the first time, including Japanese innovator Teinosuke Kinugasa, represented by the expressionist tour-de-force JUJIRO (CROSSWAYS, 1928), and Danish master Carl Theodor Dreyer, whose profoundly powerful drama MIKA’ (1924) - a landmark in the history of gay cinema - will be presented.

“In the thirteen years that we’ve produced the festival, we’ve screened more than 100 films,” Salmons said. “But there are still many legendary names whose films we have yet to show.”

“Even those making return appearances at the festival, such as Harold Lloyd and Lon Chaney, are familiar to us today mostly through DVD,” Salmons added. But you really can’t know just how fresh, exciting and masterful these pictures are until you experience them on the big screen with live music and an attentive, revved-up crowd - the way they were originally seen.

The 13th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival opens on Friday, July 11 and runs through Sunday, July 13 at the Castro Theatre, located at 429 Castro Street in San Francisco. Complete program details and information on how to purchase tickets will be announced in late May at The San Francisco Silent Film Festival is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting silent film as an art form and as a cultural and historical record.

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