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Five films I saw at the 1st Kennington Bioscope Silent Film Weekend

Pamela Hutchinson’s Bioscope weekender report from 2015!

Silent London

Silent film marathon #kenningtonbioscope

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At this time of year, a silent film fan starts packing sun cream and sandals and contemplating a journey south to enjoy some warm weather and classic cinema in the company of like-minded souls. But there will be plenty of time to talk about Bologna later. This weekend just gone, I set forth in a southerly direction on the Bakerloo line, snaking under the Thames to the Cinema Museum in Kennington, south London. What I found there was very special indeed – and long may it continue. Everyone who was there with me will relish the idea of the Kennington Bioscope Silent Film Weekend becoming a regular thing, and for the lucky among us, an amuse-gueule for Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna.

We love the Kennington Bioscope, that’s already on the record, so the Silent Film Weekend…

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The British Silent Film Symposium 2016

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Felix-laff

Every year in the middle of Spring, a roomful of silent film geeks (this is a compliment btw) gather at King’s College London for a happy wallow in the world of British silent film. Friendships have been forged through Facebook, Twitter, blogs and, of course, real human interaction and these come together in a lovely group of people who share and talk about their latest silent film findings. In spite of the squirm-inducing lecture room seats, it’s always a brilliant day. This year’s programme covered a terrific range of subjects and angles; happily it’s not intimidating for those of us outside academia. Here’s my round-up of a day that featured moral panics, hidden histories and the sights, sounds and smells of cinema.

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Book now for the British Silent Film Festival Symposium

Silent London

You heard it here first …  but now the details of April’s British Silent Film Festival Symposium have been released. You can peruse the lineup of speakers and films (I’m picking favourites already, natch) and even more excitingly you can book your ticket now. The two days of papers and films comes in at a very reasonable £20 and I am confident that I can confirm a resounding YES to the “Will there be tea and biscuits?” question.

The Somme (1927) (Image: BFI) The Somme (1927) (Image: BFI)

Check out the lineup here:

Thursday 28 April 2016
Arthur and Paula Lucas Lecture Theatre

2pm – LAWRENCE NAPPER Welcome (no registration needed on this day)

2.10 – TONY FLETCHER ‘Sound Before Blackmail’ – a programme of early sound-on-disc films matched with their discs (30mins)

2.40 – SCREENING KNOCKAGOW (Fred O’Donovan, 1918) (80mins)

4pm BREAK (30 mins)

4.30 – DAVID ROBINSON ‘Leopoldo Fregoli, Superstar and Progenitor of…

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The Sunday Intertitle: Silent Worlds

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An unexpected highlight of this year’s Bo’ness Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema was WUNDER DER SCHOPFUNG, a sort of science fiction documentary made in Germany in 1925. Using extensive reconstructions of historical advances in astronomy to chart mankind’s developing understanding of the universe, and to depict a hypothetical voyage to the limits of the galaxy, it stands comparison with Benjamin Christensen’s HAXAN, which likewise is an entirely staged but essentially truthful documentary. Where HAXAN is a horror movie documentary, WDS is a sci-fi one.

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It uses what was a science fiction premise — manned space flight — to illustrate mostly factual science, as it was understood at the time. Director Hanns Walter Kornblum’s only other movie is DER GRUNDLAGEN DER EINSTEINSCHEN RELATIVITATS-THEORIE (1922). At last, the film of the theory!

The screening was spookily accompanied by electronic duo Herschel 36, and introduced by the astronomer royal, John C, Brown, who happens…

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Musical Revolution: King of Jazz (1930) Gets a New Restoration (and a Book!)

Nitrate Diva

king of jazz posterWe classic movie geeks know a thing or two about suffering for what we love.

We grieve over the films locked away in studio vaults.

We watch dreary, fuzzy transfers of hard-to-find movies and fantasize about what the film would look like with some tender loving care.

We fork over whole paychecks to go to festivals where we try hard not to blink during screenings of sublime rare films, knowing we may never see them again.

So, good news—a lost film found, a DVD or Blu-Ray release of a buried classic, generous funding for archives—means a lot to this community. And some recent developments have made me jump for joy.

Universal is restoring The King of Jazz. Shot entirely in two-color Technicolor, this 1930 musical revue features toe-tapping tunes performed by Paul Whiteman’s orchestra and spectacular production numbers interspersed with brief comedy sketches.

Film historians James Layton and David…

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Hippfest 2015: a barnstorming weekend in Bo’ness

Next year I must not miss this!

Silent London

Bye bye Bo'ness #hippfest

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“If a cinema could give you a hug, this is what it would feel like.” That’s how Bryony Dixon described the Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema in Sight & Sound last year, and as usual, she’s not wrong.

This year I returned for my second trip to the festival, now in its fifth year, and the welcome was warm, the music was fabulous, the films magnificent and the crowds enthusiastic.

It’s a tribute to Ali Strauss, Shona Thomson and all the team behind Hippfest that this small town in Scotland draws silent movie fans from across the country (and the globe) as well as introducing the locals to the delights of EA Dupont, Mikhail Kalatazov and Buster Keaton. I had a stonking time in Bo’ness this year, and would recommend the festival to anyone who loves movies, music and…

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The price of LOVE: Garbo & Gilbert do Tolstoy

LOVE directed by Edmund Goulding, starring Greta Garbo and John Gilbert, 1927   If you’re trying to impress your date with the magic of silent film, then LOVE might not be quite the righ…

Source: The price of LOVE: Garbo & Gilbert do Tolstoy