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Established 1995 filmfestivals.com serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.

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Silent Film Festival wrapped

After four days of packed houses and 18 extraordinary programs, the 16th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival ended on a spectacular note. 

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Alexander Payne introduces the Closing Night Film Photo © Pamela Gentile<>

  

The festival concluded with Victor Sjöström's masterpiece HE WHO GETS SLAPPED and the brilliant accompaniment by the Matti Bye Ensemble from Sweden. In their excellent introductions of the film, Guest Director Alexander Payne declared himself a "Silent Film Festival lifer," and Leonard Maltin expounded on the festival's growth and success.  
Four days earlier, the festival started on Opening Night with one of the more remarkable discoveries in recent years - the restoration of the lost John Ford film UPSTREAM, with accompaniment by the Donald Sosin Ensemble.

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Kevin Brownlow illuminates his restoration of Abel Gance's NAPOLEONPhoto © Pamela Gentile <>

The excitement of Opening Night was doubled by the announcement that the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, in association with American Zoetrope, The Film Preserve, Photoplay Productions, and BFI, will present Kevin Brownlow's restoration of NAPOLEON at the magnificent Paramount Theatre, Oakland, with Carl Davis conducting the U.S. premiere of his orchestral score. Brownlow went on to give an incredible presentation on Sunday morning detailing his life's masterwork of the complete restoration of Abel Gance's epic. Because of the scale and complexity of this production, this is the one and only opportunity to see this restoration in the United States. Napoleon tickets and information. 

Executive Director Stacey Wisnia presents the Silent Film Festival Award to Jan-Christoper Horak of UCLA Film & Television ArchivePhoto © Pamela Gentile 

Saturday afternoon saw Executive Director Stacey Wisnia's presentation of the Silent Film Festival Award to the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Jan-Christopher Horak accepted the award onstage and introduced UCLA's recent restoration ofTHE GOOSE WOMAN, featuring Lousie Dresser's incredibly nuanced performance and accompaniment to match by Stephen Horne.

The Matti Bye Ensemble accompanies He Who Gets SlappedPhoto ©Pamela Gentile 

 

The fruits of the collaboration between the Silent Film Festival and the Headlands Center for the Arts to create a residency for Matti Bye and Kristian Holmgren culminated in the premiere of three beautiful scores at this year's festival. Their indelible accompaniment of THE GREAT WHITE SILENCE brought the audience to tears and received a standing ovation. 

The festival struck many other high notes:

The premiere of the George Eastman House restoration of the Douglas Fairbanks romp MR. FIX-IT, with accompaniment by Dennis James on the Castro's Mighty Wurlitzer, the preeminent theater organ in the world. 

Jonathan Richman introducesIl Fuoco with his Golden Rule  Photo ©Tommy Lau  

 

Jonathan Richman invoked his personal Golden Rule in his hilarious introduction of the Italian diva film IL FUOCO: don't give the film away! Stephen Horne's accompaniment of the film was infused with the ethereal voice of Jill Tracy. 

 

The czar of noir Eddie Muller gave a rousing and appreciative introduction to the rare screening of THE WOMAN MEN YEARN FOR, Marlene Dietrich's first starring role, with lovely accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

This year's VARIATIONS ON A THEME panel sparked controversy with its sometimes heated and often eloquent discussion of different approaches to silent film accompaniment. 

Giovanni Spinelli accompanies Sunrise Photo ©Pamela Gentile  

 The Thursday night presentation of SUNRISE was accompanied by the world premiere of Giovanni Spinelli's electric guitar score. Spinelli performed onstage with the film, inspiring both rapturous praise and equally adamant detraction.       The very rare presentation of Mikhail Kalatozov's artful agitprop film THE NAIL IN THE BOOT featured music by Stephen Horne, who accompanied on piano, accordion, and flute (sometimes simultaneously!).   On Saturday morning, Leonard Maltin and J.B. Kaufman gave a tour of Walt Disney's first animated shorts, DISNEY'S LAUGH-O-GRAMS, which, with accompaniment by Donald Sosin and student musicians, delighted adults and children alike.   We loved seeing you there and sharing these films and programs with you, and cannot wait to see you again in March for NAPOLEON at the Paramount Theatre!  

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