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THE 30th PORDENONE silent film festival




Pordenone (Italy), Teatro Comunale G. Verdi, 1-8 October 2011


To celebrate its 30th anniversary, the Giornate del Cinema Muto / Pordenone Silent Film Festival (1-8 October 2011) offers this year a particularly strong and varied programme.


One of the most anticipated events is the international première of the recently rediscovered first three reels of Graham Cutts' The White Shadow (1924), the earliest surviving feature credited to Alfred Hitchcock, the film's writer, assistant director, art director, and editor.


Another dramatic rediscovery is Robert William Paul's 1896 The Soldier's Courtship, which has been regarded as a key work in film history, as one of British - and indeed one of the world's - first fiction films.  Believed lost for almost all its 115 years, a fine print recently surfaced in the Roman archive of Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia and will be premiered at the Giornate.


To celebrate Italy's 150th unification anniversary, we present "Made in Italy", with programmes devoted both to superstars and to less-known personalities, including Francesca Bertini, Pina Menichelli, Febo Mari and the galaxy of clowns of the first decade - Cretinetti, Polidor, Kri-Kri, Robinet and friends.


"Shostakovich and the Factory of the Eccentric Actor" focuses on the association of the composer and the film-makers Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg, which began with the unparalleled marriage of music and image in New Babylon and Odna. This is a rare opportunity to see all the surviving work of the Factory of the Eccentric Actor (FEKS), unique in Soviet cinema for its vitality, originality and audacity. New Babylon will provide the festival's gala opening show.


Although New Babylon has often been performed before, this performance can be claimed as definitive. After the debacles of the first performances, Shostakovich's score was lost for 45 years, until 1975, when Gennadi Rozhdestvensky found a set of orchestral parts in the Lenin Library, Moscow, and adapted a suite from the score. Subsequently other, fuller copies of the original orchestral parts became available; but it was not until this century, thanks to the  work of the Paris-based Shostakovich Centre, that the most complete versions of the score, as well as Shostakovich's own much-corrected manuscript (the original of which is in the Glinka Museum, Moscow) became freely available. Mark Fitz-Gerald, who began his studies of the score twenty years ago, has been able to extensively revise his work in preparing the new Naxos recording, and with assistance from another fine Shostakovich scholar, Pierre-Alain Biget, has brought the score and its synchronisation to a new level, at which Shostakovich's genius can finally be fully appreciated. A second film in the FEKS programme, The Overcoat, after Gogol, will be accompanied by a new score for quartet by Maud Nelissen.


More films from the vast and largely unexplored treasury of Soviet silent films can be seen in a presentation of Georgian cinema, including the remaining two films from the oeuvre of Lev Push - a gifted director, prevented from direction after 1930, whose name was virtually unknown until last year's Giornate.


"Kertész before Curtiz" surveys the little-known European career of a Hungarian, who, as Michael Curtiz, was to become a major Hollywood director. His special gifts for narrative and character are already evident in his rare surviving Hungarian films and the operetta stories and spectacles he made in Vienna after emigration in 1919.


The popular "Canon Revisted" series this year includes an orchestral show, with Günter Buchwald conducting Chaplin's own accompaniment to The Circus. Other "Canon" titles include Marcel l'Herbier's Eldorado, Joe May's Asphalt and Friedrich Ermler's Fragment of an Empire


A small but selective programme to celebrate the American National Film Preservation Foundation's DVD issues of early Westerns will include screenings of W.S. Van Dyke's Lady of the Dugout (1918), Victor Fleming's Mantrap (1926) and the little-known Salomy Jane (1914), directed by Lucius Henderson and William Nigh.


Other highlights of this year's Giornate: a special series to commemorate the centenary of the great polar expeditions of 1911-12; Japanese silent animation film; the recently re-assembled full series of Walt Disney's 1922 Laugh-O-grams;  and a special selection of early films depicting the experience of going to the cinema drawn from the collections of EYE, Amsterdam. In the Early Cinema series are also two more programmes from the Corrick Collection, and a centenary programme which explores the exceptional narrative qualities of the films of the American Thanhouser Company.


The closing show will be a full orchestral performance of Victor Sjostrom's The Wind (1928), with Carl Davis conducting his own score.


More details on the programme will be posted on the Giornate website as they become available (




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