Silent Films at Borderlines Film Festival 2014

The Borderlines Festival is back for 2014, for those of you not in the know, the Borderlines Film Festival (now in it’s 12th year) celebrates everything from World Cinema to local British Cinema and hosts a number of great events in and around Herefordshire and Shropshire. Happy to say that the festival also includes a number of classic silent film events throughout it’s two week run (Friday 28th February – Sunday 16th March) this year.

Posted below is the whole line-up up of silent film events planned for this year’s festival, all of which are highly recommended by us. Especially the fantastic opening silent film event in Hereford! Enjoy everyone!
Max Linder/Fantômas Double Bill (PG)
An evening with two dashing Frenchman (and Neil Brand and Francine Stock)
France, 1910s, 1 hour
Sunday 2 March 6.15pm The Courtyard, Hereford

This is a unique event, showcasing rare films from the earliest days of cinema, and the launch of Festival Patron Francine Stock’s specially commissioned Ah, Mon Héros strand. We are delighted to welcome back both Francine and Neil Brand, regular silent film accompanist at BFI South Bank and presenter of the recent BBC FOUR series The Sound of Cinema.

Before the First World War, France led the way in film production. Max Linder, the dandy comedian, was the first international star of the silent era. Extraordinarily for a comedian, he was dashingly handsome but undermined his immaculate bourgeois appearance with daring physical comedy and a heart-breaking touch of vulnerability. Charlie Chaplin considered himself Linder’s disciple.

The master-criminal Fantômas was another devastating charmer, played by René Navarre in a series of 1913 adventures. For Borderlines, these two Gallic pioneers are brought together in words, music and, of course, pictures by composer and film historian Neil Brand and Francine Stock, presenter of Radio 4’s The Film Programme.

Francine Stock, one of the Festival Patrons, will be collaborating with Neil Brand on this event which launches a strand specially commissioned for Borderlines and supported by the French Institute, called Ah, Mon Héros. This is Francine’s perspective on French cinema through seven heroes/male stars including Jean Gabin, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Tahar Rahim and Jean Marais. Francine and Neil will provide an introduction to Max Linder and René Navarre, two of the heroes of early French silent cinema and showing some of their (rarely-screened) films to which Neil will be providing piano accompaniment.

It’s a hundred years this month since Charlie Chaplin made his first film but at the time it was actually Max Linder, with his dapper screen character ‘Max’, who was the most famous film actor and comedian in the world at the time. He had made it big time in movies by 1910 (before the dominance of Hollywood), after a theatrical career, with his outstanding pantomime skills, elegant appearance and great timing. Chaplin was much influenced by him and became a close friend. He called him ’The Professor’ and sometimes borrowed gags or entire plot-lines from Linder’s films.

Neil Brand talks about Max Linder’s short films and the Fantômas serials on Radio 3 Free Thinking programme on iPlayer (about 25mins into the programme). Interestingly he talks about how Pathé would have shown these films in small rural towns and the serials would have ended in cliffhangers to hook audiences into coming again. Really worth going along to!

The Phantom of the Opera (PG)
Director: Rupert Julian
Starring: Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry
US, 1925, 1 hour 17 minutes, B/W + Technicolor
With live score by jazz group Minima
Friday 14 March 8.00pm The Market Theatre, Ledbury
£12 (students £8)

In this silent horror classic it is Lon Chaney Snr, following his success as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, who plays the mysterious masked man who haunts the Paris Opera from his lair in the catacombs. Full of twists and turns that still have the power to scare, Chaney devised his own make-up as the hideously disfigured phantom overcome by obsessive love, and the unmasking scene caused contemporary audiences to scream and faint.

“It creates beneath the opera one of the most grotesque places in the cinema, and Chaney’s performance transforms an absurd character into a haunting one.” Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Formed in 2006, Minima’s repertoire includes set scores to surrealist films, horror and science fiction – they are drawn to the darker side of cinema – as well as silent short films and improvised performances. Minima comprises a four-piece outfit: drums, bass, guitar and cello and although they have no backing tracks and play with no pre-recorded sounds, the instruments are put through an array of effects to give a big palate of sounds and voices. Here they tackle the 1925 Lon Chaney version of The Phantom of the Opera.

“Films from the 1920s have a different pace, and for the uninitiated it can be hard work so a contemporary interpretation by musicians can really help. You can make people laugh, cry and jump out of their seats but we only do this in the name of accompanying the film and helping people to watch the film.” Alex Hogg, Minima

Director: Captain John Noel
Starring (as themselves): Andrew Irvine, George Mallory
UK, 1924/2013, 1 hour 22 minutes
Sunday 2 March 2.30pm Conquest Theatre, Bromyard
Thursday 13 March 7.30pm Pudleston Village Hall
Friday 14 March 7.30pm The Simpson Hall, Burghill

The juggernaut that is the Epic of Everest arrives in the West again and what a cheat we are in for. An extraordinary, beautiful, haunting ode to human endeavour, The Epic of Everest is one of the most remarkable films in the BFI National Archives. The third attempt to climb Everest culminated in the deaths of two of the finest climbers of their generation, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine.

Filming in brutally harsh conditions with a hand-cranked camera, Captain John Noel captures images that resonate deeply: the vulnerability, isolation and courage of people persevering in one of the world’s harshest landscapes. Few images in cinema are as epic or as moving. Despite its success on general release in 1924 the film’s depictions of the Tibetan way of life and its staging in Britian with dancing monks provoked diplomatic tensions with the Tibetan authorities that ensured no further British attempts were made on the mountain until 1933.

A newly commissioned score composed, orchestrated and conducted by Simon Fisher Turner (The Great White Silence) augments the picture and makes for one of the greatest re-issues ever.

  1. #1 by Elyzabeth Burns on February 24, 2014 - 12:07 pm

    Too bad those films aren’t in Bristol,

    Especially The Phantom of the Opera…

    We Love Minima and Silent Films !!!!


  2. #2 by C & B Canvin on March 7, 2014 - 8:26 pm


  3. #3 by Bristol Silents on March 20, 2014 - 4:01 pm

    Fingers crossed that we get Phantom at some point later on in the year. Don’t forget to check our events page however, we have some big film screenings coming up over the next year or so.

  4. #4 by Bristol Silents on April 14, 2014 - 8:40 am

    Hi Guys, just to let you know that Phantom of the Opera will be in the Bristol area in June with Minima as well… More info on our Calendar: Enjoy!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: