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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival

I am pleased to introduce a new guest writer, Anne Marie Kelly. Bright and intelligent, Anne Marie is well versed in her film history and has a passion for appreciating the past. She will be attending the San Francisco Silent Film Fest, which takes place May 28 thru June 1 at San Francisco's landmark movie palace, the Castro Theatre. The festival offers five plus days of silent-era films accompanied by live music! What silent film fan could ask for anything more?

For those unfamiliar with the legendary fest, according to the official website (use picture above as a link) it is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about silent film as an art form and as a culturally valuable historical record. Although the fest itself is a once a year event, the organization produces events through out the year showcasing important titles, often in restored or preserved prints, with live musical accompaniment. Each presentation exemplifies what Academy Award-winning film historian Kevin Brownlow calls “live cinema.” An experience everyone should have at least once. Of course, it only takes one time to hook you, and then you’ll be back for more.

After your first screening you’ll discover the appeal of Silent-era produced masterpieces that can seem breathtakingly modern. Why? Because in a remarkably short time after the birth of movies, filmmakers developed all the techniques that would make cinema its own art form. The only technique that eluded filmmakers of the day was the ability to marry sound to the film print, but these films were never meant to be viewed in silence. Upon you’re initial viewing it becomes pretty obvious that music was an intrinsic part of the exhibition. The absence of recording on the set, though, meant that the camera was free to move with a grace and elegance that allowed visual storytelling to flourish.

It is through these films that the world first came to love movies and learned how to appreciate them as art. They have influenced every generation of filmmakers and continue to inspire audiences nearly a century after they were made. So please, do yourself a favor and read the reviews provided by Anne Marie on some of the films she sees during the latest festival. You may just find yourself enticed into checking these films out for yourself. Maybe even on the big screen. Hopefully, with live music.

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