You will forgive us if we sound a trifle excited today! The reason for this is that we are absolutely thrilled to announce our first major events for 2016!
In collaboration with our good friends at the Curzon Cinema and Arts, Clevedon we have been able to bring you some of the best silent film events which have been touring the UK over the course of the last few months.
Also, you get the chance to see these films in the beautiful surroundings of the Curzon in Clevedon, a cinema which is more than likely to have screened these films on their original release almost 100 years ago.
So expect some superb events involving Suffragettes, Phantoms, Buster Keaton and also a World Premiere for a brand new score for a much celebrated, but rarely screened Alfred Hitchcock silent film!
So we hope to see you at the following events:
Make More Noise! Suffragettes in Silent Film with live score from Lillian Henley + Special Q & A
Complementing the release of Sarah Gavron’s Suffragette, this selection of silent films from the BFI National Archive shows how the women’s suffrage movement was portrayed on the cinema screen while their battle was still being waged on the streets outside.
The key tactic of the suffragettes’ campaign was to ‘make more noise’. That meant standing up at public meetings, in music halls and theatres, scrawling ‘votes for women’ over census papers, demonstrating on the streets and disrupting elections. It also applied to film – cinema was born just as the campaign was gathering momentum – and over the following years the suffragettes made it their business to get in front of the cameras!
This fascinating compilation of 21 short films – with a specially commissioned accompaniment by Lillian Henley, who will perform live – combines contemporary newsreels with anarchic early comedies that reveal as much about young women’s aspirations as news reportage does as well. Some offer grotesque parodies of female militants (often played by men in drag), but others feature unruly girl children, like the Tilly girls, who wreak havoc and still have the last laugh!
The event will conclude with an exclusive Q & A involving the BFI’s Silent Film curator Bryony Dixon, composer Lillian Henley and film critic Tara Judah.
This event is part of a special double bill in which the Curzon will also be screening Sarah Gavron’s Suffragette (2015) starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep before the Make More Noise! event at 2PM.
Neil Brand Presents Buster Keaton + Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)
Composer, musician and broadcaster Neil Brand (BBC Four’s Sound of Cinema and Radio 4 Film Programme regular) presents an evening of Buster Keaton, featuring clips of his funniest moments followed by the magnificent feature Steamboat Bill, Jr. Genius, surrealist, man with a death-wish? Buster Keaton was probably the greatest manipulator of the film camera – and what could be done in front of it – ever to have lived.
Composer and musician Neil Brand has been accompanying Keaton’s films on the piano for over 30 years. In this special event, experience the best of Buster and journey with Neil through the comedian’s early life and background, his funniest gags and most death-defying stunts and learn along the way just how he put those amazing films together.
Neil’s talk will be followed by a screening of Keaton’s brilliant Steamboat Bill, Jr. and a chance again to watch him try to impress his river-rat father and get caught in a cyclone that brings THAT house falling down around him.
If you thought you knew Buster, there will be plenty to surprise you – if you’ve never seen Buster live, this is the perfect way to do it!
The Phantom of the Opera (1925) with Live Music by Minima
Fast-moving and exciting, this adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera was a truly shocking experience for cinema-goers in 1925. Famous for the ghastly make-up and outrageous performance of Lon Chaney, ‘The Man of a Thousand Faces’, it also features a full Technicolor sequence as the Phantom appears at a Masked Ball.
The electrifying post-rock live score by Minima captures the horror of the story but also finds pathos and romance – drums, bass, guitar and cello follow the hideously disfigured Phantom into his subterranean nightmare world.
Prepare to open your eyes and ears to the daring collision of image and sound as Minima’s unique sonic palette breathes new life into one of the great classics of American silent film.
‘Minima are one of the leading bands accompanying silent film in Europe’ – Robert Rider, Head of Cinema, Barbican Centre.
The Manxman (1929) with a World Premiere score by Harpist Elizabeth-Jane Baldry
The Manxman was to be Alfred Hitchcock’s last silent film, and, in the event, one of the best and most mature works of his early career!
Adapted from a novel by Sir Hall Caine, a once celebrated author who specialised in stories set on the Isle of Man, the film was partially, and beautifully, shot on location, albeit in Cornwall. Set in a small fishing community, two boyhood friends take markedly differing paths in adulthood, but still manage to fall in love with the same woman. Tragedy inevitably ensues.
Hitchcock’s portrayal of the wild ‘Manx’ coastline is among the most evocative in any of his work and trapped within it is the wonderful Anny Ondra. It’s a complex, sensual performance – part vulnerable waif, part flirtatious femme fatale – and clearly the reason why Hitch cast her in his suspense masterpiece, Blackmail, later that year.
Thematic anticipations of the director’s later work abound, from Gregory Peck’s tormented-in-love barrister in The Paradine Case (1947) to Kim Novak’s would-be suicide in Vertigo (1958), although such observations should not detract from appreciating the film’s own merits, not least the superlative lead performances.
This event will screen the restoration by the BFI National Archive in association with STUDIOCANAL.