LSFF: Silent cinema and deaf culture event at the ICA in January 2017

Are you making New Year’s resolutions this year? I am a big fan of them – I made one last year, and although it wasn’t easy I definitely followed through on it (BTW did I mention that I am freelance now? Commission me!). The best are those that combine self-improvement with a little pleasure and entertainment (in fond remembrance of the Great Theatre Binge of Early 2012). Here’s one for you – how about you go to see more silent movies in 2017?

Reckon you already clock up quite a few silent screenings? Hmmm. How about something a little different?

For example, there’s a silent film screening with a twist at the ICA in January. You should come along! The event is part of the London Short Film Festival and takes place on 10 January. The screening takes its title from a Victor Hugo quote, “What matters deafness of the ear when the mind hears?”, and will explore the relationship between silent cinema and hearing impairment. To that end, all the films screened will play without musical accompaniment, and the programme is “designed to be accessible to people with hearing impairments as well as hearing audiences, creating a shared and uniquely immersive experience of silent film”.

Florence Turner in Daisy Doodad's Dial (1914)
Florence Turner in Daisy Doodad’s Dial (1914)

The works selected for the event are a mixture of classic early British shorts, experimental movies by Stan Brakhage and Hans Richter and newer silents – and they will all be projected on film. After the screening there will be a discussion:

Following the screening, a panel of experts made up of Bryony Dixon (BFI, where she works closely with silent cinema and restorations), Pamela Hutchinson (Silent London, a website for people who love silent film), and Maverick Litchfield-Kelley (Neath Films, who work with deaf filmmakers for deaf audiences), who will dissect the parallels between cinema in the modern and silent era, hosted by film journalist Ian Hayden Smith.

Yep that’s me. I think it should be a fascinating discussion – the intersection between deaf culture and silent cinema is very interesting – and the panel will of course be supported by a BSL interpreter. I only see silents in silence when watching alone in archives or at home, so I am very intrigued as to how that will work in a cinema. I’d love to to know more from deaf people about their experience of silent cinema. And I want to talk about how the noisiness, and the music, of a silent film screening impact on understanding, enjoyment, atmosphere. Then there is the thorny issue of lip-reading.

Between the hush, the eclectic mix of films and the panel afterwards, this should be like no other silent movie screening I have been to – and I hope to see you there!





2 thoughts on “LSFF: Silent cinema and deaf culture event at the ICA in January 2017”

  1. What a fabulous event! A fascinating way to broadcast the significance of silent film as a method of communicating art, story, visual literacy… (And a fine way to start 2017!)

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