Sunday, May 28, 2017

The 2017 San Francisco Silent Film Festival

Here is the line-up of films for the 2017 San Francisco Silent Film Festival at the historic Castro Theatre in San Francisco. Not only am I and Louise Brooks fans everywhere excited about seeing Now We're in the Air 90 years after it was first released, but I am especially thrilled to see what is certainly one of my favorite silent films, the Polish classic, The Strong Man. Hope to see you at one or more of these screenings!

with musical accompaniment by Berklee Silent Film Orchestra
Thu, Jun 1 7:00 PM 
Harold Lloyd’s biggest box-office hit stars Lloyd as Harold Lamb, a college freshman who dreams of being a big man on campus and gets advice from pamphlets such as “Clever College Clothes” and “How to Play Football.” A disastrous tryout lands him a spot on the football team as a human tackling dummy before he becomes the team’s water boy. But Harold holds on to his dreams, aided by his sweetheart, Peggy (Jobyna Ralston). The Freshman’s climactic football game was filmed at UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium! 
with musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin
Fri, Jun 2 10:00 AM

Sharing their amazing preservation tales are Library of Congress’s George Willeman, who has managed to sync cylinders from Edison National Historical Park with eight films from LOC’s collection for his presentation on Edison Kinetophones from 1912–13; Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi from EYE Filmmuseum, whose presentation will reveal the wonders of EYE’s UNESCO-inscribed Jean Desmet collection; and Heather Linville from the Academy Film Archive, sharing rarely seen footage of globetrotting filmmaker adventuress Aloha Wanderwell.
with musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne / Introduced by Cari Beauchamp
Fri, Jun 2 1:00 PM
Silent-era “It” girl Clara Bow falls for French aristocrat (Buddy Rogers!) after they are locked overnight in a Paris wax museum. There’s a sticking point, though—Rogers’s blueblood is betrothed to another! The Library of Congress has reconstructed the film from recovered materials, filling in missing sequences with key photos and intertitles—and in the process rescuing Bow’s incandescent performance for posterity. Restoration by the Library of Congress

Plus: SFSFF’s Rob Byrne made a remarkable discovery in the National Film Archive of the Czech Republic—footage from the lost Wallace Beery/Louise Brooks comedy, Now We’re in the Air! He was able to restore the 23-minute fragment in time for its premiere in this program. Restoration by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and National Film Archive, Czech Republic

with musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin and Frank Bockius / Introduced by Shelley Stamp
Fri, Jun 2 3:30 PM
Legendary ballet dancer Anna Pavlova was at the height of her fame when she teamed up with director Lois Weber to make The Dumb Girl of Portici. Pavlova choreographed, produced, and starred in this historical epic, Universal’s most expensive production to date and the first blockbuster ever directed by a woman. Set in mid-17th-century Spanish-occupied Naples, Pavlova’s mute fisher-girl sparks a revolution. 
Musical accompaniment and introduction by DJ Spooky
Fri, Jun 2 7:00 PM
One of the few surviving titles from the groundbreaking African-American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux, Body and Soul features the great Paul Robeson in his film debut. Robeson is magnificent in dual roles—as an escaped convict posing as a preacher and the corrupt preacher’s honorable twin brother.  

with musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne, Guenter Buchwald, and Frank Bockius /
Introduced by Bryony Dixon, BFI Curator of Silent Film
Fri, Jun 2 9:30 PM
The earliest adaptation of Liam O’Flaherty’s novel, this Irish revolutionary drama anticipates film noir in its aesthetics and fast-moving narrative. Set among Dublin revolutionaries in the early days of the Irish Free State (formed in 1922), the action starts when a clandestine meeting of revolutionaries is raided by the police and the police chief is shot and killed. Director Arthur Robison's taut masterpiece was famously remade in 1935 by John Ford.
MAGIC AND MIRTH: A Collection of Enchanting Short Films, 1906–1924
with musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin and Frank Bockius / Introduced by Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films
Sat, Jun 3 10:00 AM
This enchanting collection of short films was selected by Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films to commemorate preservationist David Shepard’s contribution to film culture. Titles include THOSE AWFUL HATS (USA, 1909, d. D.W. Griffith), CARTOON FACTORY (USA, 1924, p. Fleischer Studios), THE MASQUERADER (USA, 1914, d. Charlie Chaplin), FIRST PRIZE FOR CELLO PLAYING (France, 1907, p. Pathé Frères), FANTASMAGORIE (France, 1908, d. Émile Cohl), TIT FOR TAT (France, 1906, d. Gaston Velle), WHEN THE DEVIL DRIVES (UK, 1907, d. Walter Booth), DOWN IN THE DEEP (France, 1906, d. Ferdinand Zecca), THE DANCING PIG (France, 1907, p. Pathé Frères), THE WITCH (France, 1906, d. Georges Méliès). 
with musical accompaniment by Guenter Buchwald and Sascha Jacobsen / Introduction by Eddie Muller
Sat, Jun 3 12:00 PM
Unsuccessful writer Henryk Bielecki coaxes his friend Jerzy to suicide so he can steal the manuscript of Jerzy’s book and publish it as his own. The book becomes a bestseller, leading to fame and fortune for Henryk—and a stage production. But as the play is about to go on, Henryk’s secrets start to unravel. This elegant thriller is based on a novel by Polish modernist Stanislaw Przybyszewski. 
with musical accompaniment by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra /
Introduced by Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi of EYE Filmmuseum
Sat, Jun 3 2:30 PM
Glamorous Baroness de Troixmonde has a secret—her alternate identity is a criminal mastermind called Filibus! The masked sky-pirate flies around in her technologically advanced zeppelin—manned by black-suited, masked, obedient male acolytes—committing crimes and toying with the police. When a reward is offered for information leading to the capture of the notorious criminal, the Baroness visits the police station to declare her intention to prove that Filibus is no other than the detective assigned to the case! The beautifully tinted and toned print adds to the wonderment! 
with musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne and Frank Bockius
Sat, Jun 3 5:00 PM
San Francisco crime boss Silent Madden and his daughter, Molly ‘Silky Moll’ Madden are friends with respected Confucian master Chang Lo, whose influence is shifting the Maddens’ thinking toward the straight-and-narrow. But nefarious bad guy Black Mike Sylva has other ideas! Sylva frames Silent for murder and manipulates Molly into a return to crime. Lon Chaney has dual roles in the story—as the evil Sylva and as Ah Wing, Chang Lo’s dedicated servant—but the real star is the tough-as-nails Priscilla Dean as Molly. Look for Anna May Wong in one of her earliest roles!
BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN (Bronenosets Potyomkin)
with musical accompaniment by the Matti Bye Ensemble
Sat, Jun 3 7:15 PM
Battleship Potemkin changed cinema history forever. Commissioned to mark the 20th anniversary of the failed 1905 revolution, Sergei Eisenstein’s masterpiece is a vibrant paean to collective heroism. From the moment of its 1925 premiere at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre, the film was hailed as a masterpiece and Eisenstein’s theories of montage became aesthetic tools for filmmakers everywhere. But almost from the beginning, Potemkin was the object of censorship and suffered decades of re-cuts and re-translations that blunted its energy and originality—which makes it a special delight to present the film in its definitive restoration, completed in 2007.
A PAGE OF MADNESS (Kurutta Ichipeiji)
with musical accompaniment by Alloy Orchestra 
Sat, Jun 3 9:30 PM
A retired sailor volunteers to work odd jobs at the asylum where his wife has been confined since her attempt to drown their infant son many years before. Without intertitles, Page evokes a world as seen by the mentally disturbed—through shifting images and rapid editing—and creates a modernist tour-de-force as psychologically and aesthetically compelling as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
HE DOLL (Die Puppe)
with musical accompaniment by Guenter Buchwald and Frank Bockius / Introduced by Jay Weissberg, director of Le giornate del cinema muto
Sun, Jun 4 10:00 AM
Baron von Chanterelle has one condition in his will: His beloved nephew Lancelot must be married to inherit the estate. But Lancelot is so averse to marriage that he flees to a monastery, where the financially ailing monks devise a plan that will make everyone happy! One trip to the dollmaker and ersatz wedding later, Lancelot brings his mechanical bride back to the friary, planning to share the bequest with the brothers. What could possibly go wrong?
with musical accompaniment by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra / Introduced by SFSFF President Robert Byrne
Sun, Jun 4 12:00 PM
This Cecil B. DeMille production was considered lost for many decades and the recent discovery of materials at the Cinémathèque Française is cause for celebration! Based on a successful Broadway play, Silence opens with gallows being constructed. Jim Warren (H.B. Warner) awaits hanging for murder, but his lawyer is certain that Warren is innocent and shielding the guilty person. What follows is a gripping tale of love and sacrifice. 
A MAN THERE WAS (Terje Vigen)
with musical accompaniment by the Matti Bye Ensemble / Introduced by Jay Weissberg, director of Le giornate del cinema muto
 Sun, Jun 4 2:00 PM
Terje Vigen inaugurated Sweden’s Golden Age of film and confirmed Victor Sjöström’s primacy as a filmmaker. Here he brilliantly captures the spirit of Henrik Ibsen’s epic poem, aided by Julius Jaenzon’s beautiful camerawork. Sjöström plays the sailor Terje, who braves a British blockade to find food for his starving family but is captured and imprisoned by a heartless British captain. While languishing in prison, Terje’s family dies. His bitterness and desire for revenge grows until... 
with musical accompaniment by Alloy Orchestra / Introduced by Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films
Sun, Jun 4 4:00 PM
This was the first of many film adaptations based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel about an Amazonian land where prehistoric creatures hold sway, and for decades it could only be seen in an abridged version. This new edition combines portions of eleven film elements to present the most complete reconstruction possible. Wallace Beery arranges an expedition to the Amazon and a motley crew—including Lewis Stone, Bessie Love, and Lloyd Hughes—sign on. But the creatures engineered by Willis O’Brien (King Kong) are the true stars.  
TWO DAYS (Dva Dni)
with musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne
Sun, Jun 4 6:30 PM
Set during the 1917–21 Civil War in Ukraine, Two Days tells the story of a faithful servant, Anton, who remains behind to guard the master’s mansion as the family flees the approaching Bolsheviks. In the chaos of their escape, the landowner’s young son is left behind and Anton hides the boy in the attic. The Bolsheviks arrive to occupy the house, and it turns out that Anton’s son—whose political beliefs run counter to his father’s—is their leader. What unfolds is a complex drama, full of nuance and expressively told. 
with musical accompaniment by the Guenter Buchwald Ensemble / Introduction by Tracey Goessel
Sun, Jun 4 8:15 PM
The story is familiar—young Gascon D’Artagnan shows up in 1625 Paris eager to join forces with the King’s musketeers to save the Queen’s honor—it’s been told many times. But through sheer force of his exuberant physicality, Douglas Fairbanks puts his indelible stamp on Alexander Dumas’s character—and creates the playbook for swashbucklers in the meantime. The Three Musketeers features lavish sets, romance, intrigue, and sword play aplenty!  

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