Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The 2019 San Francisco Silent Film Festival

After a year hiatus, Peter returns to the Castro Theatre alongside Victor Morton to check back in with the good folks at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, now in their 24th iteration. It's more proof that this cinephile culture is alive and well and always expanding toward new avenues despite its century longevity. This year includes discoveries from both the studio era of filmmaking as well as unique corners of the globe, featuring narratives of fallen women, activist women, and women willing to push their vanity to death itself (also the occasional man). The surprise of the festival in part is seeing this period of history both in its innovations as well as its regressions, which sometimes work to turn seemingly simple works into complex objects. Within this, great artists appear: some known and others now reclaimed. Join Peter and Victor as they work their way through this excellent set of films.

0:00–2:41 Opening
2:42–15:00 The Signal Tower (Clarence Brown, 1924)
16:36–30:56 Tonka of the Gallows (Karel Anton, 1931)
32:11–49:33 Color Extravaganza!
50:30–53:30 Sponsorship Section
54:16–1:05:08 Goona Goona (AndrĂ© Roosevelt and Armand Denis, 1932)
1:06:03–1:24:03 Romance, Comedy and Otherwise
1:24:52–1:37:38 The Wedding March (Erich Von Stroheim, 1928)
1:37:42–1:26:52 Close


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Notes and Links to the Conversation
—Read all of Victor Morton's SF Silent Film Recaps here, and follow him on Twitter.
—More about the San Francisco Silent Film Festival their preservation fund, and Board President Rob Byrne
The Signal Tower (Clarence Brown, USA, 1924)
—Kevin Brownlow writes of Clarence Brown here.
—More about UCLA's recent restoration of Smoldering Fires (Brown, USA, 1925)
Tonka of the Gallows (Karel Anton, Chezkslovakia, 1931)
—For more on the fallen women genre, see Miriam Hansen
—Watch the other Ina Rita Film, Erotikon (1929)
Japanese Girls at the Harbor (Hiroshi Shimizu, Japan, 1933)
—For more on early Czech sound cinema, see Petr Szczepanik's chapter "Sonic Imaginations" in Lowering the Boom: Critical Studies in Film Sound
—For a brief history of color in the Silent Film Era, read Paul Read's article here and Joshua Yumibe's article here. For an article on digitization and early color films, see Giovanna Fossati here.
Rapsodia Santanica (Nino Oxilia, Italy, 1917)
Lights of Old Broadway (Monta Bell, USA, 1925)
—RW Haines's Technicolor movies: the history of dye transfer printing covers the history of two strip Technicolor. See a clip from The King of Jazz (1930) here.
L'Homme du Large (Marcel L’Herbier, France, 1919)
—See some examples of the title cards in the restoration of L'Homme du Large here.
L'Inferno (Francesco Bertolini, Adolfo Padovan, and Giuseppe de Liguoro, Italy, 1911)
—John P. Welle writes of L'Inferno and the cinema of attractions here.
—For more on ethnographic cinema, see Fatimah Tobing Rony's The Third Eye: Race, Cinema, and Ethnographic Spectacle. Catherine Russell explores the reclamation of ethnographic films in Experimental Ethnography: The Work of Film in the Age of Video
Goona Goona (AndrĂ© Roosevelt and Armand Denis, Bali / USA, 1932)
—Stream In the Land of the Headhunters
Husbands and Lovers (John M Stahl, USA, 1924)
—Imogen Sara Smith writes of last year's Pordenone Film Festival and the Silent Stahl Retro
You Never Know Women (William Wellman, USA, 1926)
—More about El Brendel's sound work here.
Wolf Song (Victor Fleming, USA, 1929)
The Cameraman (Edward  Sedgwick and Buster Keaton, USA, 1928)
The Oyster Princess (Ernst Lubitsch, Germany, 1919)
The Wedding March (Erich Von Stroheim, USA, 1928)
—For some brief discussion about Von Stroheim's edit of The Wedding March in 1954, see here.
—For more about Von Stroheim, see Jonathan Rosenbaum's article here. 
—In my research, I discovered that Von Stroheim later made a sequel to The Wedding March entitled The Honeymoon in 1930. All four major stars returned. The film kind of sounds crazy, and more can be found in this now out of print book.



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