San Francisco Silent Film Festival 2017 - Complete Festival Line Up

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival will open it's 22nd annual festival on June 1, 2017 with Harold Lloyd's action packed college film The Freshman. The live musical score will be performed by The Berklee Silent Film Orchestra. 'nuff said!

Harold Lloyd and Jobyna Ralston in The Freshman

The program for Friday June 2:

Friday morning opens with one of my favorite highlights Amazing Tales from the Archives.  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.

We will be treated to two Paramount flappers, Clara Bow and the always popular Louise Brooks.  Bow and Buddy Rogers in Get Your Man, and a 23 minute fragment from Now We're in the Air starring Brooks and Wallace Beery (her nemesis in Beggars of Life).  I know plenty of people who are super excited for new and more Brooksie! I am also excited for more Clara Bow and Charles "Buddy" Rogers! Stephen Horne supports.

From the SF Silent Film Festival Website:

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.

Lois Weber, Douglas Gerrard, Anna Pavlova
cameraman Phillips Smalley during filming The Dumb Girl of Portici 

I've always been fascinated by the 1910-1920 era of Russian Ballet (i.e., Diaghilev Ballet Russe, etc.) and how little film of those artists survived.  Pavlovas fared better in the collective memory chronicling her vaudeville performances and surviving films of her signature solo ballet as The Dying Swan.
From the start of my silent film life, exploring the era via books at my local library there was a photograph of Pavlova in Deems Taylor's book A Pictorial History of the Movies.  It was the photograph shown above on the set of The Dumb Girl of Portici, and it started a fire in me to see this film.  At that time I was unaware if the film existed or how to find it.  Little did I know I would wait nearly 40 years to have the chance to see it.  That day is very nearly here and I could not be more excited.  Restored by the Library of Congress and Dennis Doros and Amy Heller of Milstone Films, this will be the most anticipated screening from the program for me.  Music will be provided by Donald Sosin and Frank Bockius.

Paul Robeson makes his film debut in African-American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux's, Body and Soul. Robeson is magnificent in dual roles—as an escaped convict posing as a preacher and the corrupt preacher’s honorable twin brother. The music will be provided by DJ Spooky.

Final movie of Friday night will be director Arthur Robison silent version of The Informer.  Restored by the BFI, should be gorgeous.  This looks like it's going to be fabulous! Lars Hanson, hubba (to be shallow) and Lya de Putti.  I know the music will be wonderful with Stephen Horne, Guenter Buchwald and Frank Bockius. I loved the 1935 John Ford film starring Victor MacLaglen.  

The program for Saturday June 3:

MAGIC AND MIRTH: A Collection of Enchanting Short Films, 1906–1924
From the SF Silent Film Festival Website:
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).

I love this program, the short films in colour last year were a big hit.  All that being said, Godammit, I will NOT watch the #@!*&^%%  The Dancing Pig again.  NEVER.

Next will be A Strong Man, from Poland.  I know nothing about this film.  Poster looks good though! (I am informed by reliable sources, this is a not to miss program, I won't!)

From the SF Silent Film Festival Website:
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.

Filibus looks like it will be right up my alley!  Italian 1915 mystery thriller!  Music will be provided by The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.  I am THERE!

From the SF Silent Film Festival Website:
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!

Lon Chaney returns in Outside the Law set in San Francisco, it's a taut film and exciting as it is one of the silent films restored by Universal Pictures.  Directed by Tod Browning and co-starring Priscilla Dean, it is a not to be missed screening.  Bonus points if you can spot Anna May Wong in a cameo.

Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 film Battleship Potemkin is de riguer for film history students.  The editing is breathtaking, the use of montage and the Odessa Steps sequence is a masterpiece.  The film was restored in 2007 and we are being treated to seeing the ultimate restoration.  Looking forward to revisiting this.  The Matti Bye Ensemble will provide the music.

Next will be another unknown to me, A Page of Madness directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa.  Accompaniment will be by The Alloy Orchestra.

From the SF Silent Film Festival Website:
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.

The Program for Sunday June 4:

Oh boy!  Sunday starts with The Doll starring Ossi Oswalda and directed by Ernst Lubistch.  I am a HUGE fan of Ossi who was charming as hell.  To say I love Lubistch is an understatement. I have no doubt that Guenter Buchwald and Frank Bockius will provide the jauntiest of accompaniment.

From the SF Silent Film Festival Website:
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?

Silence (1926) gets a premiere

Rupert Julian best remembered for directing The Phantom of the Opera is on hand for this newly rediscovered H.B. Warner film Silence, produced by Cecil B. DeMille.  Again, this is a must see, I adore H.B. Warner, he was a very evocative actor, subtle, so I am expecting big things for this. 

From the SF Silent Film Festival Website:
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.

Victor Sjöström makes a return as actor and director in the 1917 film A Man There Was (not to be confused with A Fool There Was).  This should be an epic and beautiful film, Sjöström was a fantastic actor.  Musical support by The Matti Bye Ensemble.

From the SF Silent Film Festival Website:
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...

Willis O'Brien's creature modeling is the star of this crackerjack version of The Lost World.  Best known for his ravishing creation in 1933's King Kong, O'Brien masters his art in this 1925 classic.  Starring Wallace Beery, Bessie Love and Lewis Stone, this is a not to be missed film.  A new restoration by Lobster Films and accompanied by The Alloy Orchestra.

The festival winds down with a Soviet film Two Days and will be supported by Stephen Horne.  To hear Stephen play a film will be enough to get me there!

From the SF Silent Film Festival Website:
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.

Our festival closer will be a brand new restoration of Douglas Fairbanks's The Three Musketeers.  The restoration is a joint effort of The Museum of Modern Art, The San Francisco Silent Film Festival and help from Film Preservation Society and will be a delight from start to finish.  Fairbanks swashes his buckles as D'Artangan in Dumas classic tale.  Lush production values and Fairbanks ebullience will send everyone home smiling.  I cannot wait to see the new restoration! Music will be provided by Guenter Buchwald Ensemble.

Be there or be square.  Looking forward to seeing old friends and making some nice new ones!

Festival passes can be ordered directly from the San Francisco Silent Film Festival website. 


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