18 January 2009 Arnolfini
Fritz Lang’s gothic-futurist masterpiece was, at the time, the most lavish production in German film history; a sprawling epic which featured huge sets and over 36,000 extras. Thea von Harbou’s screenplay, about a high-tech future society where a small clique of powerful industrialists lord over an exploited industrial class, remains a potent exploration of compassion within a brutally industrialized imagined future society (which took its cues from the development of German capitalism in the 1920s ). Yet it is really the film’s astounding visual power, breathtaking to this day, that has ensured its place among the all-time greats.
This screening is accompanied by a specially commissioned new experimental live score, taking influences from German electronic pioneers and krautrock, by London-based duo Hook and the Twin
22 January 2009 Bristol Old Vic
A homage to the great silent comedians of the past.
For over a decade, The Goodies TV show delighted millions of viewers with their inventive and often hilarious slapstick comedy and its writers/performers became household names and major pop stars. We are delighted to welcome both Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden to discuss their unique show with comedian and Goodies fan Phill Jupitus.
23 May 2009 Watershed
£6.00/£4.50 concs and Bristol Silents members.
The story of what might have happened had Britain been occupied during World
War II. With onstage discussion with Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Kelly.
Onstage discussion with a panel of Gance devotees and crtics Kevin Brownlow, film historian David Robinson, Andrew Kelly and actor Paul McGann. With extracts from some of his rarest work through to Napoleon this event explores the work of a Gance through his films and discusses his formidable and too often underrated contribution to cinema.
24 May 2009 Watershed
Filmmaker Jean Cocteau said “There is cinema before and after La Roue as there is painting before and after Picasso” Long considered a cinematic masterpiece La Roue has been unavailable for 87 years. An epic of the railways shot among the marshalling yards – the Black Symphony – and the mountains – the White Symphony La Roue is a powerful drama of life among the railroad workers, rich in psychological characterization and symbolic imagery. This four and a half hour version assembled from five existing prints is an opportunity for new audiences to discover it, it should change film history as it is packed with innovations that have been mistakenly attributed to others.
24 May 2009 Watershed
The forgotten story of Winstanley and the Diggers, a Christian Communist
settlement, the first to record their political ideas. Set just after the
Civil War and filmed close to the actual locations, it is cast almost
entirely with non-professionals.
16 June 2009 Watershed
Improvised musical genius abounds in the latest teaming of the Alkijazz series featuring the Birdman Tony Orrell on percussion and JJ Garden from Scissor Sisters on keyboards.
They will be improvising to the work of Charley Bowers, a little-known filmmaker who directed, animated and acted in over 40 slapstick films during the 20s, 30s and 40s.
His work is unique, dark and comic, anticipating Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton. In partnership with Bristol Silents, we present a selection of his finest moments which meld the macabre and comic, the surreal and fantastical.
30 August 2009 Arnolfini, Bristol
Socialist science-fiction spectacular, Aelita was the first big-budget Soviet movie, intended as ideologically-correct mass entertainment to rival Hollywood. The story follows an engineer named Los who leads a construction effort to build a spaceship, dreaming that the ship will carry him to Mars where he can meet the woman of his dreams. The movie’s influence is hard to overestimate: its incredible set design would soon be echoed by the likes of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Flash Gordon.
With acclaimed soundscapers Minima performing a new live soundtrack. Minima have been accompanying silent and experimental film since 2006. Based in London and Bristol, this will be the first time they take their unique sonic palette into space.
Dir. Yakov Protazanov USSR 1924 2hrs Subtitled
9 September 2009 Colston Hall
It’s 80 years since Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy made their transition from silent to sound film and Bristol’s Slapstick Silent Comedy Festival celebrates their extraordinary onscreen legacy with a special live gala evening of film and music hosted by award winning writer and comedian Sanjeev Bashkaer
Best known for his work on Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars at No 42, Sanjeev has selected his favourite Stan and Ollie sound comedies to delight audiences including their Oscar winning classic THE MUSIC BOX (1932), in which the boys play removal men trying to deliver a piano up a monumental flight of stairs!
Other highlights include a capella vocal group The Matinee Idles and a special appearance from original Our Gang member and child performer with Stan and Ollie – Hollywood legend Jean Darling.
Plus the world premiere of a newly commissioned orchestral score from maestro Günter Buchwald for the Laurel and Hardy’s classic silent comedy DOUBLE WHOOPEE (1929), featuring Jean Harlow in her screen debut and accompanied by the fabulous Emerald Ensemble.
The best of Laurel and Hardy on the big screen with one of Britain’s best loved comic performers. Let the mayhem begin!
17 October 2009 Trinity Centre
In this typically bizarre Lon Chaney/Tod Browning collaboration Chaney plays an armless knife thrower (Alonso) who is infatuated with beautiful bareback-riding carnival girl, Estrella (played by the very young Joan Crawford). Using his feet to perform a circus knife-throwing act Alonso masquerades as armless only to evade the law. However, on discovering Estrella’s fear of being touched by men Alonso, desire-crazed and love-blind, decides to have his arms amputated in an attempt to win her heart, with devastating results… One of the great silent movies, astonishing in its intensity and unrivalled in the twenties for its exploration of dark-side of human emotion, The Unknown is a remarkably perverse and brilliant tale of passion, lust and obsession.
John Sweeney started playing for silent movies in 1990 at Riverside Studios Cinema in London and has since played many places including the National Film Theatre, the Barbican Cinema, Nottingham Broadway and the Cambridge Film Festival. Playing at the Giornate in Italy since 2000, he has also worked extensively in the field of contemporary dance, both as a composer and a pianist.
This event is presented by The Compass Festivsal in partnership with Bristol Silents as part of their Compass West: America programme
Not only a silent film screening buit so much more:
In the seedy cellars and back allies of 1920s America, gangsters and molls gather in town’s hottest Speak Easy where the Madame, matriarch of the house, waits to welcome her punters, including some of the hood’s most notorious characters… Roxanne props up the bar, as the local mobsters gamble at a table in the corner…
In addtion to THE UNKNOWN screening on the bill tonight are dancers, singers, magicians and circus performers.… A slick night out in the city was never so enticing!
31 October 2009 Arnolfini
Arnolifini in partnership with Bristol Silents present Murnau’s peerless silent masterpiece on the Halloween night. Bristol Silents members can pay the concessionary rate to this event by presenting their discount cards at the box office when purchasing tickets. The film with be accompanied live by an ensemble who Bristol Silents worked with before on their haunting accompaniment to Nanook of the North. The Shrine Synchro System is the ever-evolving musical unit of Rita Ray and Max Reinhardt, which grew out of their London Shrine club nights, inspired by Fela Kuti’s legendary Lagos club. For this special Halloween event, two cultures clash as The Shrine – performing with a musical idiom derived from many African musical styles, on turntables, cello and kora – goes head to head with FW Murnau’s expressionist film classic, Nosferatu.
8 November 2009 Watershed
Bristol Silents is delighted once more to be working closely with The Bristol Festival of Ideas who complete their season of Abel Gance classic silents, which started with La Roue in May, with a rare showing, for the commemorations of the Armistice, of J’Accuse; a pacifist romantic drama set against the horrors of the First World War.
Work on the film began in 1918 with some scenes filmed on real battlefields using real soldiers, many of whom were to die in later fighting. It portrays wartime suffering with incredible realism, and its climactic sequence of the ‘return of the dead’, made it an international success, making Gance one of the most important directors in Europe.
Introduced by film historian and Gance champion, Kevin Brownlow, with live piano accompaniment by silent film maestro Stephen Horne.