A new Bristol film initiative, South West Silents has been launched. Our intention is to complement and extend the 15-year work of Bristol Silents, in bringing to 21st century audiences the masterpieces and the pleasures of classic silent cinema. Bristol Silents’ most spectacular achievement in this respect has been Bristol Slapstick Festival, which has established a unique formula, bringing together contemporary comedians and veterans of British television comedy with the great classics of silent comedy. Going into its twelfth year, the festival is set to open with a full-packed programme of humour on January 20 2016.
As Slapstick has grown so has the commitment and time needed to run the festival, and responsibility for the monthly Bristol Silents club screenings was taken up by James Harrison, who later was joined by Rosie Taylor and Peter Walsh. Together we have programmed a curious and brilliant blend of silent cinema’s lesser known gems, fostering a new interest for silent film events all year round. Very successful collaborations with the Curzon in Clevedon, The Cube Microplex, as well as the Watershed in Bristol have followed, and this has now opened the door to several new and exciting opportunities for funding and support.
After talks between the Bristol Silents’ founders (Chris Daniels and Norman Taylor) and the club screening team, it was agreed that we should set up South West Silents to explore new opportunities in and around the region. We will continue to invest our time, enthusiasm and ideas into new projects, while Bristol Silents itself will live on as an extension of the Slapstick festival. Together South West Silents and Slapstick are both looking forward to collaborating on promoting and celebrating the joy of silent cinema in all its wonderful forms.
What does this mean for the future, and for you, our regular Bristol Silents supporters? Over the course of the next week we will be updating our social media channels to South West Silents, and we already have a new website with a selection of articles and competitions in association with the BFI. The logo and name may be different, but the passion and enthusiasm remain the same!
Our inaugural event at The Cube was E.A.Dupont’s superb Varieté, which was very well received thanks to Stephen Horne’s brilliant live accompaniment. Now with funding and support from the BFI Regional Film Hub we are already planning more exciting events in the coming year. Our monthly club screenings will of course continue in January, but now under the aegis of South West Silents!
Alongside our collaboration with Slapstick we will also be looking to build on our ties in the wider world of archive cinema. With links to the British Silent Film Festival, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, and Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna, we hope to bring more unique silent film events to venues across the region.
We, the South West Silents team, are eternally grateful to Chris and Norman for their mentoring and inspiration over the years with Bristol Silents, and we intend to continue the work they have started for many years to come.
We hope you will join us!
James Harrison, Rosie Taylor, Peter Walsh
Co-Directors of South West Silents