Casanova (1927)

The Silent London Poll of 2021: And the winners are …

It may already feel like a long time ago, but 2021 was one heck of a year. We were online, we were in-venue, sometimes we were both. But we were all grateful for the films, and the music. Below, it gives me great pleasure to reveal your chosen favourites, and a selection of your insightful and amusing comments too.

Thank you for your votes. Here are your winners!

  1. Best real-world silent film screening of 2021

Your winner: Casanova (1927), accompanied by the Orchestra San Marco, conducted by Günter Buchwald, playing his new orchestral score

You said:

Casanova at Teatro Verdi, by Gunther Buchwald. But I also want to mention: Shoes at the Frankfurt Schauspiele with Maud Nelissen trio and also Bett und Sofa at open-air Beykoz Kundura Istanbul with Korhan Futaci and his band.”

“I only saw one (down from pre-pandemic 30 or 40 a year). So that one wins! It was a goodie though. Pandora’s Box, 35mm, Hebden Bridge, with Darius Battiwalla. Well worth the terrifying road trip over icy moors!”

2. Best online silent film screening of 2021

Prix de Beauté (Augusto Genina, 1930)

Your winner: Prix de Beauté (1930), accompanied by Stephen Horne, HIppFest

You said:

Prix de Beauté at HippFest accompanied by Stephen Horne was … gobsmacking. I’m still haunted by it.”

“Really enjoyed My Cousin with Enrico Caruso, from Bologna, music recorded by Daniele Furlati, François Laurent and Guido Sodo, the internet says. Loved John Sweeney playing up a storm in a true live stream, in Daring Deeds for the Kennington Bioscope, early in the year.”

3. Best real-world silent film festival of 2021

Max, der Zirkuskönig (1924)

Your winner: Pordenone Silent Film Festival, by an avalanche

You said:
“sobs uncontrollably…”

4. Best online silent film festival of 2021

Paul Robeson in Body and Soul (Oscar Micheaux, 1925)
Paul Robeson in Body and Soul (Oscar Micheaux, 1925)

Your winner: HippFest

You said:

“Bonn and Pordenone were fab (and how lucky are we to be able to visit them from our desktops?) but HippFest was the loveliest of them all. Grass, Micheaux, Pickford and Brooks … all awesome. And what warm introductions and beautiful explorations of the local area!”

“The Nederlands Silent Film Festival was so close to the beginning of the year that Pordenone and Bologna are more immediate in the memory, but it was a wonderful effort from a small team, excellent sound quality and well done to them for turning the renewed lockdown in the Netherlands which forced them to go without an in-person audience, into an opportunity for an international audience to join in with them. Enjoying the 2022 Festival now, and will look forward to voting for that next year!”

5. Best silent film venue of 2021

Teatro Verdi, Pordenone

Your winner: Teatro Verdi, Pordenone

You said:

“My condo”

“The Cinema Museum in London for the Kennington Bioscope, so very pleased it’s been back in operation.”

“In my imagination, I visited the Cinema Museum many, many times. Sadly the reality is, I haven’t been since the last Bioscope screening in 2020.”

6. Best online silent film screening series of 2021

Ben Model and Steve Massa of the Silent Comedy Watch Party

Your winner: The Silent Comedy Watch Party

Honourable mention: Kennington Bioscpe

You said:

“Kennington Bioscope. Addictive and SO varied. Bravo to Michelle, John, Cyrus and the gang – and to the BFI for supporting their programme so well.”

“Endless thanks to Ben & Steve for the Silent Comedy Watch Party”

7. Best silent film streaming platform of 2021

Your winner: Stumfilm.dk

You said:

“www.stumfilm.dk just amazing. Seriously, amazing.”

8. Best silent film Blu-ray/DVD of 2021

Filibus: The Mysterious Air Pirate (1915)

Your winner: Filibus: The Mysterious Air Pirate (1915), Milestone Films

You said:

“The Love of Jeanne Ney (Masters of Cinema). Almost had me believing I was back in the BFI at their wonderful Weimar season … what a magnificent film.”

9. Best silent film book of 2021

Your winner: Discovering Lost Films of Georges Méliès in fin-de-siècle Flip Books, 1896–1901 , by Thierry Lecointe, Pascal Fouché, Robert Byrne and Pamela Hutchinson (John Libbey)

Thanks, Silent Londoners, this means a lot!

10. Best modern silent of 2021

Your winner: Monsters, Inc, the silent remix cartoon

You said:

“Amsterdam during lockdown”

“A bit mainstream, but Only Murders In The Building, Episode 7 “The Boy from 6B”, it’s all from the point-of-view of a Deaf character, very interesting approach.”

11. Silent film hero of 2021

Alison Strauss

Your winner: Alison Strauss

Honourable mention: Jay Weissberg

You said:

“The wonderful Alison Strauss – for bring silent cinema to Scotland each year with such love (and this year, online)!”

“Anyone who kept going”

“John Sweeney: a marvellous technical player with great flair and who always puts the film first!”

“Valerio Greco: took pictures in the theater despite the danger of becoming infected”

“All the Pordenone musicians, but especially Frank Bockius who played wonderfully for so many of the in-person screenings”

“Ben Model (aside from the watch party, his blog posts prompted some NEW THOUGHTS)”     

12. Silent film discovery of 2021

Ellen Richter in Moral (1927)

Your winner: Ellen Richter, by some margin!

You said:

“Ellen Richter. I only experienced Moral online but I wished I could have seen it with an audience and on a proper screen.”     

“Fred Evans as ‘Pimple’ in the Kennington Bioscope livestream curated by Bryony Dixon. The surviving films on their own are so peculiar, seeing them in context and with the background information really showcased how good they are, would love to see more.” 

“Fairly new to silent film so not a discovery for others I’m sure but I loved researching Louise Brooks after watching Prix de Beauté at HippFest and immersing myself in her wonderful world through old stills… Plus in that title she was just so perfect. So much empathy for that character who almost 100 years later still feels very ‘real’.”

Fool’s Paradise, thanks to Pordenone Online. It was my first experience of watching a silent feature film that isn’t readily available. As someone who has never so far been able to attend a film festival in person, this felt amazing to me. And the film was so much fun!”

Ham and Eggs at the Front (1927), you didn’t specify in positive or negative.”

“The awful boy blowing bubbles getting visions of his mother……that one.” Can anyone help me on this?

“Jane Gardner’s goats toenails percussion.” I think this refers to Gardner’s Häxan accompaniment – but I NEED to know more.

13. Best silent film restoration of 2021

Jokeren (1928)

Your winner: Jokeren (1928), by the Danish Film Institute

You said:

“Any restoration is impressive.”  True, that.

14. Intertitles of the year.

Miss Lulu Bett (1921)

It’s just for fun, but boy did you find some good ones this year!

You said:

“What kind of mister are you – a Miss mister or a Mrs mister?” Miss Lulu Bett

“Your trousers are in police custody.” Moral

“You’d better go with him – or he’ll quit you, too – for a French Poodle!” Fool’s Paradise 

“The man who takes an eel by the tail or a woman at her word soon finds that he holds nothing.” OR: “Every woman will make a fool of some man at least once.” Phil-for-Short

“Quit honking, you devils! My duck is scared to death!” – unattributed

“No intertitle. Marion Davies dropping the F-bomb in Lights of Old Broadway.

Thanks to everyone who voted, and congratulations to all the fabulous winners!

• You can read my essay on rediscovering Ellen Richter for the Criterion Collection here.

• Silent London will always be free to all readers. If you enjoy checking in with the site, including reports from silent film festivals, features and reviews, please consider shouting me a coffee on my Ko-Fi page.

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