The Silent London End of Year Poll

Silent film screening

There are a heck of a lot of end-of-year lists floating around at the moment. But most of them are dominated by talkies. To rectify this, allow me to present The Silent London End of Year Poll. I’m looking for the best silent film show of the year – anywhere in the world. And I’d like your help.

If you love going to watch silent films with live music then there have been ample opportunities to indulge your passion this year. The scene is thriving in London, not that we wouldn’t like to see more screenings. And my Twitter spies tell me that from New York to Paris to California to Sussex people are enjoying silent cinema shows of all kinds. So what has been your personal highlight of 2010? The show that introduced you to silent film or reinvigorated your appreciation of it? A new film or musician that blew you away – or a classic done just right?

Metropolis, in its shiny new longer version, was everywhere this year. But it wasn’t the only story in town. Were you at Pordenone, or one of the other silent film festivals in London, San Francisco, Kansas, Sydney, Chicago, Berlin … Did you see A Thief Catcher or Wara Wara or The Great White Silence? Perhaps you listened Minima or Zombie Zombie adding new soundtracks to classic silents, or enjoyed a deftly improvised live accompaniment in the cinema.

So was it one of these, or perhaps something altogether more obscure, even a modern silent? And don’t forget location, location, location – 2010 has brought us screenings in concert halls and in market squares as well as festivals and cinemas. What worked for you?

If you need to jog your memory, this 2010 roundup by The Bioscope will probably help.

This could be great if lots of people get involved, so please let me know your favourites in the comments space below, email me on or talk to me on Twitter. I’ll list the most popular shows on the blog and it should be a great snapshot of what’s happening across the world – and what we’d all like to see more of.

My favourite? It’s a toughie. I’m not sure I should say just yet …

7 thoughts on “The Silent London End of Year Poll”

  1. A bit predictable, but the best for me this year was a screening of Keaton’s Seven Chances with live music in our village hall. Filled to capacity, and with Terry Davies on the piano, it was a perfect, riotous, silent film experience.

    Least successful of the year was one I’ve written about elsewhere. Naruse’s Nightly Dreams at the Barbican was a marvellous fiilm ruined by Nitin Sawhney’s score.

  2. My choice is going to be wildly obscure, but nevertheless sincerely felt. A 1916 Brazilian anthropological film that I saw at Pordenone, Rituaes e festas Borôro (Rituals and Festivals of the Borôro), made by Luiz Thomas Reis, reminded me of why film is the most compelling medium, and silent film especially so. As I wrote on The Bioscope, the film is “notable for its observant, unpatronising, humane manner. The camera never intruded, only witnessed, and the Borôro were not looked upon as objects of curiosity but as people respected for their customary practices and milieu.” It was thilling to witness.

    Best silent film screening on London? The wartime documentary The Battle of the Ancre and the Advance of the Tanks (1917), shown at the Imperial War Museum with its original ‘score’ (actually a compilation of musical suggestions) ingeniously reconstructed by Stephen Horne.

  3. The Toronto International Film Festival’s October screening of GREED was terrifying. Accompaniment was provided by an instrumental post-rock band, Do Make Say Think, who used Noise alongside traditional arrangements and even old standards to keep things unsettled. You all know how the characters look in that movie–well, that’s how the banded sounded. It was Hell, and it was great.

    Screening took place at the Bell Lightbox.

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