It’s a busy time! Here’s a roundup of the silent movie news I really want to share with you.
The Slapstick festival, our favourite reason to visit Bristol, is back in 2016, running from 20-24 January with a fantastic lineup of events topped by a special gala screening of Chaplin’s The Kid. But there’s so much more to the programme than that. I am looking forward to Kevin Brownlow’s favourite silent comedy westerns, Lucy Porter on the genius of Anita Loos, David Robinson’s lecture on the inside story of The Kid and a musical screening of Cecil B DeMille’s jazz-age drama Chicago (1927), as well as tributes to Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Ben Turpin and more. Read more and book here and don’t forget to support the Kickstarter campaign if you can.
It would take a smarter woman than me to keep up with Neil Brand these days – he pops up everywhere from the BBC to the Royal Albert Hall to the good old BFI. The best way to keep tabs on his activities and make sure you don’t miss a show, is his website neilbrand.com, which has just been thoroughly revamped. There’a google calendar of his upcoming events (very useful) and links to buy his DVDs, albums and books. Plus, there is an INCREDIBLY USEFUL page, titled So you want to programme a silent film? which is a clear, and authoritative guide to how to put on a silent film screening – from rights to music to marketing. If you are contemplating putting on a show – read this first. There is also a link through to Brand’s Originals site, which has some fascinating material about film music and musicians in the silent era. I hear that these pages will be getting their own makeover shortly.
Hipp Hipp hooray
Another festival! But much further north. The wonderful Hippodrome festival of silent cinema has announced its dates for 2016 – clear your diaries for 16-20 March please. Pack your warmest hat, your smartest 1920s-style frock, and reserve a table at Ivy’s Tearoom. Details of the programme will be announced in due course, with one snippet emerging before Christmas, and the rest in early February. Watch this space.
Silent film on the radio
This is an incredibly intriguing idea – and I hope it becomes a trend. On 11 December 2015, at 11pm, BBC Radio 3 will broadcast Canadian inuit singer Tanya Tagaq’s soundtrack to the Nanook of the North, Robert J Flaherty’s landmark 1922 documentary. Simultaneously, the film will be streamed on the station’s website, so viewers/listeners at home can experience both together. It’s in a slot for night owls, I admit, but I’d be very keen to try this out – if you do, let me know how well it works.
Henley on music
I enjoyed this short interview with the fabulous Lillian Henley about scoring the Make More Noise! suffragette compilation in Penny Black magazine.
Two fantastic new Blu-ray editions of classic silents came out this week: Nosferatu and The Birth of a Nation. Both come highly recommended, particuarly as the features are supported by so much great archive material. I spent yesterday evening watching (and live-tweeting) Birth, but I could dedicate another whole evening to the extras, and I think I will.
Before I go, two more silent film festival dates for you – of sorts. The so-called “loudest silent movie on earth”, Gutterdämmerung, an immersive heavy rock/cinema experience, has announced two UK shows for 2016. You can see Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins and Grace Jones do their thing at the Download and Isle of Wight music festivals. If you are not familiar with these festivals, the first is a metal event, the second a poppier re-incarnation of the classic 60s original. The makers of the film have released a new trailer too, above, which seems not-so-silent to us.