14th ANNUAL SAN FRANCISCO SILENT FILM FESTIVAL

Opens July 10th At The Castro Theatre
with Dougals Fairbanks and Lupe Velez in the 1927 classic
THE GAUCHO
Accompanied by The Mont Alto Picture Orchestra

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Tickets are on sale now for the foremost celebration of silent cinema in the Americas—The 14th ANNUAL SAN FRANCISCO SILENT FILM FESTIVAL, scheduled for July 10th through 12th at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. Audiences will have the chance to experience the breathtaking vitality and depth of the silent era with 12 programs of classic films and rediscoveries complete with live musical accompaniment in the grand setting of San Francisco’s magnificent Castro Theatre.

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LUPE VELEZ and DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS

Douglas Fairbanks, John Gilbert, Lillian Gish – superstars of the silent era – are just a few of the legendary talents returning to the big screen. Accompanying these cinematic treasures are some of the finest musicians in the field – including Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, Philip Carli, Stephen Horne, Donald Sosin, and Dennis James.

Mont Alto will premiere its brand new original score, written expressly for the Silent Film Festival, to accompany our Opening Night presentation of THE GAUCHO (1927), starring Douglas Fairbanks and the revelation of the festival—Lupe Velez. Fairbanks, a huge star at the time, wrote this glorious adventure and generously shares the spotlight with the dazzling newcomer in her first starring role. Mont Alto will also accompany the West Coast Premiere of the restored legendary “lost” King Vidor film starring John Gillbert, BARDELYS THE MAGNIFICENT (1927), as well as playing for the Czech scorcher, EROTIKON (1929).

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UNDERWORLD – Evelyn Brent and Clive Brook

Pianist Stephen Horne of the National Film Theatre in London will return to accompany Jean Epstein’s surrealist masterpiece—THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (1928). Luis Buñuel, fresh from his collaboration with Salvador Dali on Un Chien Andalou, assisted Epstein on this French take on USHER. Horne will also play for Josef von Sternberg’s proto-noir UNDERWORLD (1927), which will be introduced by the Noir City’s Eddie Muller; and AMAZING TALES FROM THE ARCHIVES, the fourth edition of our free-admission spotlight on film preservation. This special program will include the World Premiere of SCREEN SNAPSHOTS—7TH SERIES, a rare short subject preserved by last year’s recipient of our Silent Film Festival Preservation Fellowship, Anne Smatla. This year’s Fellowship recipient will be announced at this program.

Philip Carli of George Eastman House, returns to the baby grand to accompany our Director’s Pick program. Director Terry Zwigoff (Crumb, Ghost World, Bad Santa) has selected the rarely-screened comic gem SO’S YOUR OLD MAN, featuring the hilarious comedian W.C. Fields—a star well known for his work in talking pictures who proves to be a master of the silent screen as well!

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EROTIKON – Directed by Mauritz Stiller (1920)

The gloriously rousing Chinese film WILD ROSE (1932) starring Jin Yan, the Valentino of China will be accompanied by master pianist Donald Sosin, and the 2009 Silent Film Festival Award will be presented at this program to the Chinese Film Archive. Yan’s widow Qin Yi, herself a celebrated entertainer in China, will introduce the program. Sosin will also accompany our family-friendly matinee program, featuring the wonderful Disney character OSWALD THE LUCKY RABBIT (1927–1928). Leonard Maltin and animator Ub Iwerks’ granddaughter Leslie Iwerks will guide us through this enchanted animated program.

The Closing Night film will be D.W. Griffith’s last silent film – LADY OF THE PAVEMENTS (1929), starring the beautiful Lupe Velez, also featured in THE GAUCHO. With its splendid cinematic flourishes, LADY marks the master’s return to the cinematic firmament after years in the critical wilderness. The film was completed as a silent, then partially re-shot to qualify as a part-talkie including two musical numbers—Griffith’s innovative experimentation with “sound modulation.” The presentation will include piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin, and vocal recreation of the musical numbers by Joanna Seaton.

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Stars of THE WIND (1928) – Lars Hanson and Lillian Gish

The master of the Mighty Wurlitzer, Dennis James, will premiere his original score—commissioned by the Silent Film Festival—at the Centerpiece Presentation of Victor Sjöström’s brilliant THE WIND (1928), starring Lillian Gish in her finest role. Along with Griffith and Murnau, Swedish director Sjöström was one of the giants of the silent era who convinced critics that the motion picture was not a bastard child of the stage, but a vital art form in its own right. The presentation will include a special wind effect (the same used in silent movie scores in the 1920s. The Centerpiece Presentation will be introduced by Leonard Maltin. James will also accompany the delirious Soviet futurist drama AELITA, QUEEN OF MARS (1924) on the Mighty Wurllitzer and the Theremin, backed up by Mark Goldstein on the Buchla Lightning.

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AELITA, QUEEN OF MARS

This year the Festival celebrates Biograph Studios, director D.W. Griffith, and the company’s most famous star Mary Pickford and the 100th anniversary of her screen debut. To celebrate the centenary are several shorts featuring America’s Sweetheart, as well as recent preserved and restored Biograph titles from the Library of Congress and George Eastman House.

McRoskey Mattress Company will once again be the festival’s lead sponsor. As part of their sponsorship they have generously donated a Salem Day Bed (a $2,700 value) which will go to the lucky winner of the Grand Prize Raffle.
Click here for more information: 14th ANNUAL SAN FRANCISCO SILENT FILM FESTIVAL

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OSWALD THE LUCKY RABBIT (1927–1928)

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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