Silent Films for September

With the 1st of September comes to the first day of Autumn (in Meteorological terms anyway) and with Autumn sees the start of a number of South West Silents events which will run up until April 2017. There are plenty of great events to come in the following months, celebrating a wide range of subjects from the early years of cinema. But, for now, we thought we would quickly highlight what is coming up in September.

Friese Green 115 v4

Wednesday 7th September 2016: Celebrating Bristol Film Pioneer William Friese-Greene: Special Beer Launch:

The Portcullis, 3 Wellington Terrace, Bristol BS8 4LE. 7PM till late: Free Admission.

Join us not only to start the new silent film season in the South West but also to celebrate the launch of a new beer celebrating one of Bristol’s pioneering sons, William Friese-Greene. We have teamed up with our old friends at Dawkins Ales to bring you a fantastic new beer which will be available throughout Bristol.

Born in Bristol on 7th September 1855, William Edward Green (the Friese-Greene was added later) is classed by many as one of the founding fathers of British Cinema and a key figure in the early development of cinematography as a whole. In some circles he is celebrated, while in others he is damned for filing patents on devices he allegedly didn’t invent.

The beer, named, The Friese-Greene will be launched at the Dawkins’ pub The Portcullis, in Clifton Village with a selection of films inspired by the work of William Friese-Greene on the night. The launch party starts at 7:00pm and will end late.
More info: Getting the Beers In for Bristol’s Own William Friese-Greene

High Treason Skyline

September 10, 2016: High Treason (1929) – Live Accompaniment by Andy Quin:

Curzon Community Cinema, Clevedon BS21 6NN: 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm

Curzon Arts and Cinema and South West Silents are very proud to present one of British Cinema’s forgotten treasures, Maurice Elvey’s Sci-Fi silent film, High Treason (1929) but not only that, BUT WE ARE SCREEENING IT ON 35mm FILM as well!

In a future London (well, 1950), evil arms dealers plot to blow up the Channel Tunnel and fly planes into tall buildings, driving two super-powers to the brink of war. Can London’s Peace League save the world? The city’s skyline of skyscrapers and bullet-shaped railways may recall Metropolis, but the similarities end there in this very British vision of the future. It being the future, everyone wears glittering silver lame, dance music is produced by automaton, people communicate by video phone and showers both wash and dry. It’s impressive to see that gender equality is taken for granted and delightful to note that combat gear includes high heels!

Based on a play by maverick MP, Noel Pemberton-Billing, the film’s futuristic setting allows for playful debate on the war versus peace issues of the inter-war years.

With live music by Pianist Andy Quin:
Andy Quin is a composer and pianist working mainly in film, TV and advertising. He has written and recorded music for over thirty years ranging from tracks on Hollywood movies such as Definitely Maybe and Flash of Genius through TV shows such as Boardwalk Empire, Marple, Coronation Street, It shouldn’t Happen To… and Holby City, to many of the UK’s best known adverts. He has well over a thousand published works broadcast globally and is probably one of the most versatile, prolific and successful production music composers in the world.

Special intro by Lucie Dutton. Lucie is currently researching a PhD thesis on Maurice Elvey’s early career. Check out Lucie’s article on Elvey and High Treason: High Treason: Looking forward to 1940 or reaching back to the Great War? 

How to book your tickets.


Saturday 17th September 2016: Hamlet (1921) – Live Accompaniment with Lillian Henley
Gloucester Guildhall, Gloucester GL1 1NS: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

South West Silents are proud to present a very rare treat, a screening of Asta Nielsen’s Hamlet (1921).

As soon as Asta Nielsen had founded the company Art-Film, she set out on the ambitious project of a Hamlet adaptation with herself in the leading role. With Svend Gade and Heinz Schall she engaged two directors she had already worked with. Erwin Gepard was in charge of the script in which Hamlet was portrayed as a woman.

The reviews were ambivalent and criticized the falsification of Shakespeare but praised the acting of Asta Nielsen. Nevertheless the premiere of Hamlet in 1921 was a success. The film became a box office hit and was subsequently released in America.

With live music by SWS’ good friend Lillian Henley:
Lillian has written for both contemporary film and silent films, and she shares a passion for both. Lillian has accompanied at the British Silent Film Festival (2014 & 2013), Barbican Centre, (Fashion in Film Festival 2010) Hoxton Hall (Laurel & Hardy shorts – Wrong Again & Habeas Corpus) and the Cinema Museum in London. Lillian regularly accompanies silent films with John Sweeney and Cyrus Gabrysch for the silent film club, Kennington Bioscope.

More info and how to book tickets.


British Silent Film Night: SWS Club Screening:
The Lansdown, Clifton Road, Avon, United Kingdom: 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm: Free Admission

Without a full blown British Silent Film Festival this year we thought best to try and accommodate that loss by putting something British Silent Film related for our monthly silent film Club Screening. To lead us through the night which will look at a brief look at how British film studios ran we have our long-time friend Barbara Gallati introducing a British feature film celebrating everything got to do with the British film industry in the 1920s.

More info.

COMING SOON: A few highlights about what to expect later on in 2016 from South West Silents.

Banner for Sws Shakespeare

Sunday 30th October 2016: Play On! Shakespeare in Silent Film
Curzon Community Cinema, Clevedon BS21 6NN: 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm

South West Silents and Curzon Cinema & Arts present an afternoon of rare films from the BFI National Archive’s to commemorate 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare.

From King John in 1899, film adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays proved popular with early filmmakers and audiences. By the end of the silent era, around 300 films had been produced.

The BFI’s feature-length celebration draws together a delightful selection of thrilling, dramatic, iconic and humorous scenes from two dozen different titles, many of which have been unseen for decades.

See Hamlet addressing Yorick’s skull, King Lear battling a raging storm at Stonehenge, The Merchant of Venice in vibrant stencil colour, the fairy magic of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and what was probably John Gielgud’s first appearance on film, in the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet!

These treasures from the BFI National Archive have been newly digitised and are brought to life by the composers and musicians of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

How to book your tickets.


Sunday 13th November 2016: The Battle of the Somme (1916) – Live Accompaniment by Stephen Horne & Martin Pyne
Curzon Community Cinema, Clevedon BS21 6NN: 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Curzon Cinema and Arts and South West Silents are proud to present The Battle of the Somme (1916) with live with the original musical score from 1916 with accompaniment from Pianist Stephen Horne and Percussionist Martin Pyne. This screening will take place on Remembrance Sunday 2016.

A huge box office hit on release in 1916 with nearly 20 million people flocking to see it, this British government propaganda film blends real footage with sequences that were staged for the cameras. The Somme marked the first British offensive to which cameramen were given access, documenting front line action as it took place.

Marking it’s centenary the film will tour the UK increasing its audience reach that remains larger than Bond, Star Wars or any other film!

The Battle of the Somme, fought from 1 July – 18 November 1916, was the first British offensive of the First World War to which cameramen were given access, in order to film the front line action as it took place. Two official War Office cameramen, Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell, were attached to the British Expeditionary Forces and returned to London just ten days after the start of the battle with 8,000 feet of film.

The resulting 80-minute film, The Battle of the Somme, was released in picture houses across the UK in August 1916, while the battle was still being fought. It made an enormous impression on the public and was seen by at least half the population. Audiences were greatly impressed by the film’s realism, as well as being traumatised by the candid and unprecedented images of British wounded and dead. The Battle of the Somme also had considerable international impact, being shown to great acclaim throughout Europe, the Americas and in countries of the former British Empire.

“Stephen Horne displayed dazzling virtuosity in his accompaniment for a variety of films… creating orchestral effects with the piano soundboard and accompanying himself on flute and accordion!”
Leonard Maltin

How to book your tickets.



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