Silence is Golden: Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff

It kind of feels obligatory to start off every blog about silent film by referencing The Artist at the moment. Whether you loved it (and the record breaking numbers through the doors at Watershed infer many did), thought it was pretty good but a bit flawed (like Sanjeev Bhaskar), found it underwhelming (like some of Bristol Silents number did) or totally disliked it (like Terry Jones), what can’t be denied is the way it’s raised awareness of silent film and triggered a renewed interest in what most of us have always known to be a magical time in cinema’s history.

The latest place to jump on silent movie bandwagon is Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff. Actually it’s not really fair to suggest they’re jumping on a bandwagon – we’ve co-hosted events over there previously from BAT (Before The Artist, natch) so silent film has obviously always been on their radar – although they do admit that their latest dalliance into the world of early cinema is inspired by the success of The Artist.

During the whole of February Chapter are focussing on silent films in some depth, with both films and courses. The centrepiece of their season is a four session course running every Tuesday from 7th Feb. (I obviously would’ve alerted y’all to this earlier if I’d spotted it prior to today).

In their own words, here’s what they say about the course:

If you’d like the opportunity to learn more about the (silent) era and discuss films with other enthusiasts, come along to our film course led by Daryl Perrins, University of Glamorgan’s Senior lecturer in Film Studies.

The course takes place every Tuesday in February and costs £40/£35 which includes a ticket to either screening of the appropriate film

As the above suggests there are going to be separate screenings of silent films accompanying the course, films that can be watched individually. Working on the premise that you can never have too much Buster Keaton, even only a couple of weeks after Slapstick Festival, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear their first screening is Edward Sedgewick and Keaton’s The Cameraman twice on the 11th Feb (11am & 3pm),

this will be followed by Tod Browning’s The Unknown (w/ Live Music) on 12th/14th Feb (5pm & 2.30),

then Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr 17th Feb (6pm), (we’ll be doing a separate blog about this as The Cube will also be screening this, both will feature live music accompaniment by Steve Severin),

then G.W.Pabst’s Pandora’s Box 19th & 21st Feb (5pm & 2.30)

and finally E.A. Dupont’s Picadilly 26th & 28th Feb (5pm & 2.30)

In addition to all these films Chapter have organised a Young Persons’ Silent Film Academy: Silent Film Workshop on 15th Feb (10.30 – 3.30) which will comprise of the following:

Led by MovieMaker’s Tom Betts, and using clips from a variety of films from the golden era of Cinema, this 4 hour practical filmmaking workshop helps you to understand the language of silent film and gives you the chance to plan, shoot and edit together your own short silent film.

Details for all the events can be found on Chapter’s website here or click on any links for the films above.

Considering a coach to Cardiff takes only a tad over an hour and tickets can be picked up for under £10 I’d say heading across the bridge makes perfect sense for every Bristol based (silent) film fan at some juncture during the next few weeks.

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