San Francisco Silent Film Festival
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4/25/2014 at 6:19:54 PM GMT
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San Francisco Silent Film Festival

From May 29th to June 1st we are excited to be presenting the San Francisco Silent Film Festival 2014 at the historic Castro Theatre (429 Castro Street, San Francisco, California)!

The festival includes 17 wonderful silent-era features including The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the film that made Rudolph Valentino! The festival will also be featuring one program of extraordinary silent shorts and rarities, and the ever-popular Amazing Tales From the Archives program. 19 programs in all! Full program details are listed below and online at

San Francisco Silent Film Festival

833 Market Street, Suite #812

San Francisco, CA 94103-1828

If you are interested in working with us to promote this event, please find my contact details below. Thank you for your time, we look forward to hearing back from you.

Danielle Parker

Silent Film Festival 2014 Schedule

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Opening Night

Thursday, May 29

7:00 pm

Approximately 132 minutes

Director Rex Ingram

Cast Rudolph Valentino, Alice Terry, Pomeroy Cannon, Josef Swickard, Alan Hale

Musical Accompaniment by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

Based on the best-selling novel by Vicente Blasco Ibanez and adapted for screen by June Mathis, Four Horsemen was the film that made Rudolph Valentino a star and brought director Rex Ingram to prominence. Valentino brought a new kind of leading man to the screen in the role of Julio Desnoyers: the Latin lover. This film is one of the greatest of the Great War chronicles, and our presentation commemorates the 100th anniversary of World War I, as well as the 25th anniversary of our accompanying ensemble.

Amazing Tales from the Archives

friday, May 30

10:00 am

Approximately 100 minutes

Presenters Bryony Dixon, Dan Streible, Ben Burtt and Craig Barron

Musical Accompaniment Stephen Horne

A free event that showcases another edition of our popular Amazing Tales from the Archives program.

Bryony Dixon, Curator of Silent Film, BFI National Archive, presents some astonishing early nature films, which were among the very first films preserved by the BFI National Archive.

Plus a surprise new acquisition from 1903! The familiar snippet of film commonly known as Fred Ott’s Sneeze became an icon of the earliest cinema. Dan Streible, Founder and Director Orphan Film Symposium, takes a New Look at an Old Sneeze as he shares his discoveries about the film we thought we knew well, which had been missing almost half of the frames shot in 1894!

Barron and Burtt’s presentation explores how Charlie Chaplin worked and adapted new technology and developments to his process—with behind-the-scenes stills, film clips, and animations.

The Song of the Fisherman

Friday, May 30

1:00 pm

Approximately 60 minutes

Director Cai Chusheng

Cast Wang Renmei, Luo Peng, Yuan Congmei, Han Langen

Musical Accompaniment Donald Sosin

Cai Chusheng’s The Song of the Fisherman is not only the first social-realist film in Chinese cinema history, but also the first Chinese film to win a prize in an international festival (Moscow Film Festival, 1935). Depicting the struggle of the poor in Shanghai, the film is a moving story of social injustice told with eloquence and passion.

This film played in Shanghai for a record of 84 days to an audience of nearly a million. The film’s title song (composed by Ren Guang) was also a huge contemporary hit in Shanghai, and later (in the 1970s) it became a hit in the U.S.

Midnight Madness

Friday, May 30

3:00 pm

Approximately 61 minutes

Director F. Harmon Weight

Cast Jacqueline Logan, Clive Brook, Walter McGrail, James Bradbury, Oscar Smith

Musical Accompaniment Stephen Horne

“Its very title reeks of strange people, mystery, suspense!” reads the advance publicity for this silent melodrama, loosely inspired by Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and directed by F. Harmon Weight. Secretary Norma Forbes (Jacqueline Logan) accepts the marriage proposal of Michael Bream (Clive Brook), wealthy diamond miner. Norma reveals to her boss and actual love interest (Walter McGrail) that she’s only marrying for the money. Having eavesdropped through a conveniently open door, Michael, despite his genuine affections, schemes to teach his gold-digging fiancée a lesson. From New York, the newlyweds sail second class to South Africa, where Michael leads his wife to believe that he is down-and-out. They settle in a bleak shack near a mine, where Norma discovers the hardships of life in the African jungle. She sends a cable to her former employer, divulging her whereabouts. A fight ensues, which leaves Michael bound up and prey to a lion. At last realizing her affection for her husband, Mrs. Bream returns with a shotgun—setting up a suspenseful climax that can only result in no lady or no lion. —Jennifer Rhee

The Parson’s Widow

Friday, May 30

5:00 pm

Approximately 88 minutes

Director Carl Th. Dreyer

Cast Hindur Carlberg, Einar Rød, Greta Almroth, Olav Aukrust, Kurt Welin, Mathilde Nielsen, Lorentz Thyholt

Musical Accompaniment Matti Bye Ensemble

A very early film by one of cinema’s masters, and one that will surprise those familiar only with Dreyer’s most famous work—the darkly moving The Passion of Joan of Arc. The Parson’s Widow is as beautifully composed as the later work, but replete with deft comic touches as well. Based on a story by Norwegian poet Kristofer Janson, The Parson’s Widow tells the story of a young seminary graduate (Einar Rød) who travels with his sweetheart (Greta Almroth) to a small village to audition for the job of pastor of the local church. A simple plot filled with opportunity for hilarity, but this is also a Dreyer film and it is tinged throughout with humanity and generosity for all of its characters.


Friday, May 30

7:30 pm

Approximately 80 minutes

Director Edwin Carewe

Cast Dolores del Rio, Warner Baxter, Roland Drew, Vera Lewis, Michael Visaroff

Edwin Carewe directed the 1928 version of what had by then proven a durable story, filmed twice previously (and at least once subsequently). Adapted from Helen Hunt Jackson’s hugely popular 1884 novel, the Ramona narrative tells of a mixed-race (Scots-Native American) woman, sympathetically detailing her persecution for reasons of race. Wearing a theme of cultural diversity on its sleeve, the Ramona story has become a touchstone to generations of Californians, and an indispensable part of the state’s imaginative cultural heritage.

Cosmic Voyage

Friday, May 30

10:00 pm

Approximately 75 minutes

Director Vasilii Zhuravliov

Cast Sergei Komarov, Vasilii Kovrigin, Nikolai Feoktistov, Viktor Gaponenko, Kseniya Moskalenko

Musical Accompaniment Günter Buchwald and Frank Bockius

The Soviet Union was serious about its science fiction, bringing in rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky as a technical consultant on Cosmic Voyage. Tsiolkovsky designed miniatures for this big budget project that enjoyed the full backing of the Communist Youth League. A trip to the moon, what better way to inspire the youth of a nation! Cosmic Voyage is a wonderful adventure with hilarious subplots and remarkably sound science.

The Good Bad Man

Saturday, May 31

10:00 am

Approximately 80 minutes

Director Allan Dwan

Cast Douglas Fairbanks, Sam De Grasse, Doc Cannon, Joseph Singleton, Bessie Love, Mary Alden

Musical Accompaniment Donald Sosin

Douglas Fairbanks produced, wrote and starred (as the character “Passin’ Through”) in this western directed by Allan Dwan and photographed by Victor Fleming. Passin’ Through is an orphan who becomes a Robin Hood-like bandit, robbing from the rich to aid unwanted children. Beautifully photographed in Tuscon, the film has been thought lost for many years. The recent restoration by SFSFF’s Tracey Goessel and Rob Byrne is a revelation, and our screening is the World Premiere!

Serge Bromberg’s Treasure Trove

Saturday, May 31

12:00 Noon

Approximately 80 minutes

Presentation and Musical Accompaniment Serge Bromberg

World-famous preservationist and entertainer Serge Bromberg has long been a collector of celluloid images and has regularly organized cine-shows he calls Retour de Flamme where he presents rare and often unique footage. Recently Bromberg and archivist Fernando Peña of Buenos Aires made a magnificent discovery—a lost version of Buster Keaton’s The Blacksmith. With Keaton as a cornerstone for this show, we asked Serge to reach into his treasure trove to present a show to delight and amaze San Francisco! Bromberg will introduce each treasure and accompany the film on piano. Vive le cinéphile!

The Epic of Everest

Saturday, May 31

2:00 pm

Approximately 87 minutes

Director John Noel

Musical Accompaniment Stephen Horne

The Epic of Everest (1924) is the official film record, shot by Captain John Noel, of the third British expedition to attempt to reach the summit of the world’s highest peak. En route the film records some of the earliest images of the Tibetan people and their culture, including scenes at the village of Phari (Pagri), Shekar Dzong (Xegar) and the Rongbuk Monastery. On the slopes of Everest we follow each stage of the climb as the mountaineers and Sherpas progress, enduring incredibly harsh conditions. When the camera can go no further, a specially designed telephoto lens, filming at a distance of over two miles, records the final attempts of climbers Mallory and Irvine to reach the summit.

The Epic of Everest was restored by the BFI National Archive in collaboration with Sandra Noel, the director’s daughter. The team reintroduced the original colored tints and tones, overcoming serious challenges inherent in the material to do full justice to this heroic feat of exploration cinematography.


Saturday, May 31

4:30 pm

Approximately 77 minutes

Director Anthony Asquith

Cast Brian Aherne, Elissa Landi, Cyril McLaglen, Norah Baring

Musical Accompaniment Stephen Horne

The second feature from aristocratic British director Anthony Asquith (A Cottage on Dartmoor, Pygmalion), Underground is a working-class love story and thriller set in and around London’s subway system. The romantic triangle pits nice-guy Brian Aherne against sinister Cyril McLaglen for the affections of beautiful shopgirl Elissa Landi.

Asquith’s fondness for German Expressionism is evident in the lighting, by German Karl Fischer, and the influence of Soviet filmmakers in the use of montage. The British Film Institute restored Underground in 2013, to mark the 150th anniversary of the London subway.

Under the Lantern

Saturday, May 31

7:00 pm

Approximately 129 minutes

Director Gerhard Lemprecht

Cast Lissy Arna, Gerhard Dammann, Mathias Wieman, Paul Heidemann, Hubert von Meyerinck

Musical Accompaniment Donald Sosin Ensemble

The story of a good girl’s descent to a life on the street has been told many times in cinema, but Lamprecht’s telling is filled with such humanity and feel for the denizens of the demimonde that it approaches masterpiece. Especially accompanied by Donald Sosin, Günter Buchwald, and Frank Bockius, whose score, with its evocation of Berlin in the ’20s, masterfully complements Karl Hasselmann’s expressive camera.

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the Deutsche Kinemathek has digitally restored several of Lamprecht’s films including Under the Lantern.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks

Saturday, May 31

10:00 pm

Approximately 74 minutes

Director Lev Kuleshov

Cast Porfiri Podobed, Boris Barnet, Aleksandra Kho

Musical Accompaniment Matti Bye Ensemble

It may seem unlikely that a manic satire of American ignorance about the Soviet Union was one of the first projects to emerge from the workshop of Russian film theoretician Lev Kuleshov. But The Extraordinary Aventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks proves Kuleshov’s ideas about the power of editing and montage, with its fast-paced, slapstick American-style comedy.

Mr. West (Porfiri Podobed), a goofy YMCA executive in Harold Lloyd glasses and fur coat travels to Moscow with his cowboy sidekick/bodyguard Jeddy (Boris Barnet). Immediately Mr. West is separated from Jeddy and falls into the clutches of a motley group of thieves posing as Bolsheviks (including Vsevolod Pudovkin!).

Seven Years Bad Luck

Sunday, June 1

10:00 am

Approximately 62 minutes

Director Max Linder

Cast Max Linder, Alta Allen, Ralph McCullough, Betty Peterson

Musical Accompaniment Donald Sosin

Before there was Chaplin and Keaton, there was Max Linder. A handsome and dapper Parisian, Linder began appearing in film shorts for Pathé in 1905, becoming the cinema’s first comic star. Chaplin and others have cited him as an inspiration. However, due to Linder’s unsuccessful career in the U.S., he returned to France and his films have been difficult to see. Now, in one of his wonderful American comedies, Seven Years Bad Luck (restored by Lobster films), festival audiences have a rare opportunity to experience Linder’s artistry, including the famous mirror gag that Linder originated.

Dragnet Girl

Sunday, June 1

12:00 Noon

Approximately 100 minutes

Director Yasujiro Ozu

Cast Kinuyo Tanaka, Joji Oka, Sumiko Mizukubo

Musical Accompaniment Guenter Buchwald

Best known for his gentle family comedies and dramas, Japanese master Yasuhiro Ozu also made three silent gangster films. Dragnet Girl, the last and best of them, stars future Mizoguchi muse Kinuyo Tanaka as a typist by day, and gun-toting gangster’s moll by night. As her ex-boxer lover, Joji Oka matches her tough bravado. Ozu, a fan of American films, pays stylish homage to the genre, filling the frame with Hollywood-style décor and costumes, moody lighting and noir shadows. The sets and cinematography were reportedly influenced by the work of Joseph von Sternberg. Not typical Ozu, but a surprising, delightful anomaly.

The Girl in Tails

Sunday, June 1

2:30 pm

Approximately 110 minutes

Director Karin Swanström

Cast Einar Axelsson, Magda Holm Nils Arehn, Georg Blomstedt, Karin Swanström, Erik Zetterström

Musical Accompaniment Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

A fizzy comedy that makes some serious feminist points, The Girl in Tails was directed by forgotten multi-hyphenate Swedish director Karin Swanström. The film is based on one of a series of novels satirizing small-town life by one of Sweden’s leading early 20th writers. Katja (Magda Holm) wants a new dress for her graduation dance, but her father won’t buy her one. So Katja dresses up in her brother’s tuxedo and attends the dance, smoking cigars, drinking brandy, and shocking the locals. Swanström, now a footnote in film history, was one of the most powerful people in the Swedish film industry in the 1920s and ‘30s.

The Sign of Four

Sunday, June 1

5:00 pm

Approximately 83 minutes

Director Maurice Elvey

Cast Eille Norwood, Arthur M. Cullin, Isobel Elsom, Fed Raynham, Norman Page

Musical Accompaniment Donald Sosin

One of the best of the surviving silent Sherlock Holmes features, The Sign of Four stars Eille Norwood as the great detective. Arthur Conan Doyle said of Norwood, “He has that rare quality that can only be described as glamour, which compels you to watch an actor eagerly even when he is doing nothing. He has the brooding eye which excites expectation and has also a quite unrivalled power of disguise.” Move over Benedict Cumberbatch!

Harbor Drift

Sunday, June 1

7:00 pm

Approximately 93 minutes

Director Leo Mittler

Cast Lissi Arna, Paul Rehkopf, Fritz Genschow, Siegfried Arno, Friedrich Gnass, Margarete Kupfer

Musical Accompaniment Stephen Horne

At Harbor Drift’s center is a beautiful pearl necklace that could change the lives of three impoverished people, but instead leads to more misery. Exquisite camerawork by Friedl Behn-Grund takes in the harbor, bridges, canals and alleyways of Hamburg as the eloquent story prefigures film noir in its depiction of fated souls. The German title Jenseits der Strasse’s subtitle: Eine Tragödie des Alltags—a tragedy of everyday life—is an apt description of Weimar Germany’s unemployment and destitution as personified in the film by an old beggar (Paul Rehkopf), a jobless young man (Fritz Genschow), and a prostitute (Lissy Arna). Little known in the U.S., Harbor Drift is a masterpiece of the late silent era, worthy of standing with giants such as Asphalt and Joyless Street.

The Navigator

Sunday, June 1

9:00 pm

Approximately 60 minutes

Director Buster Keaton, Donald Crisp

Cast Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire, Frederick Vroom, Clarence Burton, H.N. Clugston

Musical Accompaniment The Matti Bye Ensemble

In his fourth feature film, The Navigator, Buster Keaton plays a rich man who goes to great lengths to woo his ladylove (Kathryn McGuire), and in typical Keaton fashion, ends up adrift at sea. To film the shipboard scenes, Keaton chartered a 370-foot steamship capable of holding hundreds of passengers and crew, anchored it first at Catalina Island and later at Lake Tahoe, and spent ten weeks filming some of his most elaborate and famous stunts, including an underwater sequence. The results were worth it: The Navigator was one of his most successful films, and critics at the time praised it as his best. Keaton also counted it as one of his personal favorites.

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