The Kennington Bioscope Weekender: a silent film festival for London

The Cheat (1915)
The Cheat (1915)

Well hello there, Elephant & Castle tube station. A few months back I wrote about the many wonders of the Kennington Bioscope – a regular silent screening event held at the Cinema Musesum, south London. Short version: it’s ace.

Now the Kennington Bioscope has gone one better than brightening up our Wednesday evenings. The Kennington Bioscope Weekender will take over the Cinema Museum for two days in the summer – 20 & 21 June – to screen a mouth-watering selection of silent films.

Two things to note straight away – first, the majority of these films will be shown on film, either 35mm or 16mm. The website makes it clear which is which. And second, the films have been chosen and will be introduced by an estimable group of film historians including Kevin Brownlow.

Twinkletoes (1926)
Twinkletoes (1926) (image from acertaincinema.com)

So the credentials are solid. But take a look at the programme and you’ll see that this festival should be great fun too. There’s an intriguing mix of the arty and the slapstick, shorts and features, in fact something for most tastes. Colleen Moore as a cockney dancer in Twinkletoes (1926)? Rene Clair’s last silent, the split-screen-enhanced comedy Les Deux Timides (1928)? Tom Mix riding to the rescue in The Great K&A Train Robbery (1926)? Dimitr Kirsanoff’s unforgettably avant-garde Ménilmontant (1928?) Harold Lloyd causing havoc as he pursues Jobyna Ralston in For Heaven’s Sake (1926)? Sessue Hayakawa doing despicable things with a hot iron in Cecil B DeMille’s The Cheat (1915)?

Les Deux Timides (1928)
Les Deux Timides (1928)

I’m particularly excited to see the Clair film, and Herbert Brenon’s Beau Geste, which is one of the films to be introduced by Kevin Bronwlow himself. There’s a tantalising programme simply labelled “Funny Ladies” too – definitely worth investigating – and another called “Lost & Found”, which promises to comprise 28mm films. And if you have not had the chance to see any of H Manning Haynes’s adaptations of WW Jacobs seaside stories, don’t miss the two showing here.

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