Competition time! And this time I am giving away three pairs of tickets for some silent movie screenings at one of London’s most atmospheric venues. The team at the Lucky Dog Picturehouse have teamed up with Wilton’s Music Hall, a historical theatre in the east end of London, to put on four nights of silent cinema and live music.
The Lucky Dog Picturehouse is dedicated to recreating the original cinema experience, bringing together classic silent films and live, period specific music. Working with some of the best young musicians in London, they have performed at numerous venues including the BFI Southbank, LoCo Film Festival, Hackney Picturehouse, Standon Calling festival and Abney Park’s outdoor cinema series. The Lucky Dog Picturehouse also run a series of educational programmes introducing silent film to children in a fun and interactive way.
To win a pair of tickets for one of these screenings, just send the answer to this question to email@example.com by midnight on 7 August 2017 – and don’t forget to let me know which film you’d like to see.
What is the name of the cowboy star played by Brian Aherne in Shooting Stars?
A) Tom Mix
B) Julian Gordon
C) William S Hart
Good luck! The winner be chosen at random from the correct answers and will be notified by email.
It’s a stellar year for silent film screenings in London, big and small, but there is one particular show I have been looking forward to for months …
Allan Dwan’s captivating, super-sized adaptation of Robin Hood, starring the athletic, charming Douglas Fairbanks, is one of my all-time favourite family-friendly silents. It has wit, and spectacle and action and a true star to recommend it. And who doesn’t love Robin Hood?
But there is another reason to anticipate this screening. Robin Hood screens at the Barbican in October, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra playing a brand new score, by the one and only Neil Brand, a veritable swashbuckler among film composers. The Barbican promises us that Brand’s score transforms and further enlivens the classic silent, adding “a new richness and relatability to the film’s building tension and dark humour”. I think this is going to be very special.
Robin Hood set a very good example when he robbed from the rich to give to the poor. You could win a pair of tickets to experience the movie, and the new score, for yourself (and a friend).
Competition time! You could win two top-priced tickets for a very exciting event, Charlie Chaplin on Screen at the Royal Festival Hall.
On Sunday 10 April the Philharmonia Orchestra presents a screening of three Charlie Chaplin films, with live music conducted by Carl Davis. Chaplin’s own music accompanies A Dog’s Life, in which Charlie strikes up a friendship with a stray dog that leads him into farcical antics, and Shoulder Arms, where hapless Charlie is sent over the top whilst fighting in the First World War. Davis also conducts his own score to short film Kid Auto Races at Venice, the first ever film appearance of Chaplin’s “Little Tramp” character.
A few words from Carl Davis: “The scores are each in their own way highly evocative with a strong music hall style. A Dog’s Life even has a music hall scene in which the leading lady is accompanied by a musical saw. These, what I call ‘half features’, are a stepping stone from Chaplin’s cycle of two-reelers – The Mutuals – and his first feature-length film The Kid of 1921. Our evening opens with a real collector’s item, Charlie’s third short, Kid Auto Races in Venice released in 1914. Its significance is that Charlie is wearing for the first time on film the iconic makeup and costumes that he became so strongly identified with: the little moustache, top hat and oversized shoes. I tried to pretend I was composing for a little band that might have been brought in to entertain the public attending the race, i.e. rough and raucous!”
For your chance to win two top-priced tickets for Charlie Chaplin on Screen, simply email your answer to the following question to firstname.lastname@example.org:
Which actress appeared in two of the three films shown at Charlie Chaplin on Screen?
a) Georgia Hale
b) Edna Purviance
c) Mabel Normand
Good luck! The competition closes on Friday 1 April at 12pm.
Welcome, wherever you are … Shooting Stars, Anthony Asquith’s bittersweet movie biz satire, is screening at the BFI Southbank on Thursday 3 March 2016. As you no doubt know, this is the gorgeous new restoration that graced the London Film Festival Archive Gala in October. Also, at this screening, there will be live music, courtesy of John Altman’s jazzy new score. It’s a fantastic British film, and a glorious treat for all silent movie buffs. Think of it as a forerunner to Hail, Caesar!, but with Brian Aherne in a stetson rather than George Clooney in a toga.
If you’re quick, you could win two tickets to this screening, so listen up.
To be in with a chance of winning some tickets, email Filmcompetitions@bfi.org.uk with STARS in the subject header by Wednesday 2 March at 9am. Tickets are limited to one pair per person and it is first come first served.
You will only be contacted by if you are successful. In which case, your name will be added to a guest list and you will receive an email by 7pm on 2nd March.
Silents-wise, this screening is surely the highlight of the BFI Love season: Frank Borzage’s gorgeously romantic Seventh Heaven (1927), with a brand new score by KT Tunstall, Mara Carlyle and Max de Wardener.
Seventh Heaven is a classic from the golden years of Hollywood silent cinema, with unforgettable performances by Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell as star-crossed lovers in a gritty, but somehow still beautiful Paris. Back in 1927 Mordaunt Hall was moved to laughter and tears by this film, saying: “It is obvious that this subject was admirably suited to the screen, but it should also be said that Frank Borzage in directing this production has given to it all that he could put through the medium of the camera.”
It’s true. There is more emotion in 10 minutes of this weepie than most entire films, so this live music event should be unforgettably immersive. Here’s what the BFI has to say about the event:
Sonic Cinema has teamed up with the formidable talents of British musical powerhouses KT Tunstall, Mara Carlyle and composer Max de Wardener to present a brand new BFI-commissioned score to Borzage’s classic. Perhaps the most sublimely lyrical of all the silent-era romances, this tale of transformational love sees Charles Farrell’s sewage worker and Janet Gaynor’s street waif rise above poverty and war to be together. Martin Scorsese’s observation that Borzage’s films unfold in ‘lover’s time’ was never more apt, and the tender emotions Borzage captures build to an unforgettable, transcendental climax.
If you attend the occasional silent movie screening, like I do, you’ll have experienced a particular bittersweet feeling. As much as you enjoyed the show, you fear you could never quite recreate the magic. You know the film is out there waiting for you to watch again (somehow), but nine times out of 10, the improvised music that accompanied it lives only in the corner of your memory.
The genius of improvisation is that the melodies, or that special combination of them, are conjured out of thin air, and disappear just as fast. Unless … someone, say Neil Brand, were to sit down at the piano and record some of those tunes for posterity.
So that is exactly what Brand has done – he has released an album of some of his favourite tunes to accompany classic silent films (from Pandora’s Box to Safety Last!). It’s a pleasure to listen to, and an enjoyably infuriating silent movie quiz too: the sleeve notes will tell you which film each track belongs to: can you guess without looking, and for an extra 10 points, can you pinpoint the scenes that inspired each excerpt?
Over to Brand’s notes to explain further:
In this album I have tried, for the first time, to give my improvised silent movie accompaniments a little life of their own away from the films, as piano pieces. They carry the essence of my musical thoughts on what these films are about, but you can listen to them without knowing the films, and let the pieces create your own pictures in your head.
Those sleeve notes also include a short intro by Brand to each film. So if you like what you hear, and you haven’t yet encountered the movie in question … well you couldn’t really ask for a better introduction.
I’ve had a listen to the album, and it really is wonderful. What I didn’t expect, was to feel the same shivers down my spine that I would experience when watching Louise Brooks dance, or Murnau’s camera swooping through the morning mist. This is the most evocative of music – I felt that I was in the film as much as viewing it, whirling through the streets of Berlin (People on Sunday), Charlestoning with Clara Bow (It), marching in step with John Gilbert (The Big Parade) and dangling precariously with Harold Lloyd (Safety Last!).
Hello silent film fans. The wonderful people at the Lucky Dog Picturehouse, who put on some wonderful, and very eclectic, silent film/live music shows around the capital, have a special offer for you – and some tickets to give away too. First, here’s how to acquire some tickets for a night of Buster Keaton films in Streatham, and enjoy a buffet too.
Join us at London’s famous Hideaway Jazz Club for our Buster Keaton Special! Some of Buster Keaton’s most well loved short films and a few surprises along the way … Live piano accompaniment by Tom Marlow, musician at The Lucky Dog Picturehouse (performed: BFI, Wilton’s Music Hall)
We’ve got a fantastic offer of FILMS PLUS BUFFET just £13 (£10 concessions) next Thursday 24th July at the famous Hideaway Jazz Club, Streatham. Click here to buy tickets.
Advance Tickets include finger buffet from the Hideaway kitchen. Please arrive at 7.30pm for buffet (includes vegetarian selection).
Please note: Tickets purchased after 21st of July will not include the buffet selection, but will be at the reduced price of £10. Food may be ordered separately at the venue.
But don’t forget – The Lucky Dog Picturehouse has two pairs of tickets to give away to Silent London readers. Just email your name to email@example.com to enter the ballot. Here’s hoping you’re a lucky dog too!
Good news for the silent film hipsters of east London: the Hackney Attic goes from strength to strength as a silent film venue. The Filmphonics group regularly take over the top of the Hackney Picturehouse for an increasingly ambitious series of silent film screenings with live music.
The next date for your diary is a showing of one of our favourites: Lon Chaney in the gorgeously grotesque The Phantom of the Opera (1925). You owe it to yourself to see this classic on the big screen!
A mad, disfigured composer seeks love with a lovely young opera singer…. Far beneath the majesty and splendour of the Paris Opera House, hides the Phantom in a shadowy existence. Shamed by his physical appearance and feared by all, the love he holds for his beautiful protégée Christine Daaé is so strong that even her heart cannot resist.
And there’s more: this screening of The Phantom of the Opera will be accompanied live by the marvellous Costas Fotopoulos on piano.
Costas is based in London and works internationally as a concert and silent film pianist, and as a composer and arranger for film, the stage and the concert hall. He regularly provides live piano improvisations to silent films at BFI Southbank and he has also accompanied films at other major British venues such as the Barbican Centre and the Prince Charles Cinema, as well as in New York, Warsaw and Northern Italy.
The great news is that you could get your hands on a free pair of tickets to this screening. Get in! To win a pair of tickets to see The Phantom of the Opera at Hackney Attic, just send the answer to this question to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on Wednesday 16 July 2014. The winner will be chosen at random from the correct entries.
Lon Chaney was known as the Man of a Thousand … what?
One of the most enduring, and controversial, of silent films is to screen at the Southbank Centre in April, with a very special soundtrack. Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North presented what seemed to audiences in 1922 to be an authentic “Story Of Life and Love In the Actual Arctic” – and they flocked to cinemas to see it. Nowadays we know that several of the scenes were staged, and that Nanook’s igloo was a fake – but the film remains a favourite. A docudrama rather than a documentary, made before the boundaries before those two genres were made distinct, Nanook of the North is a trailblazing film and one that is loved almost as much for the idiosyncrasies of its production as for the events on screen.
What’s particularly special about this screening is the music will be provided by a woman from the Canadian Arctic – not so far from the territory shown on screen in Nanook. Tanya Tagaq is an award-winning throat singer, who will accompany the film solo. Throat singing is traditional to the Inuit region but is usually performed by women in duets – a sort of sing-off to see which vocalist can last longest. You might remember the throat singing score for Pudovkin’s Storm Over Asia that was performed by Yat-Kha at the BFI Southbank a few years back.
To win a pair of tickets to see Nanook of the North with Tanya Tagaq at the Southbank Centre, email the answer to this simple question to email@example.com with Nanook in the subject header by noon on Friday 28 March 2014.
Nanook was not really called Nanook. What was his real name?
Terms and Conditions
– To enter the competition entrants must email…
– The competition closes at 12.30pm on 28/03/14 and entries sent after that time will not be considered.
– The prizewill be awarded to 1 winner and will consist of 2 tickets to see Tanya Tagaq in concert with Nanook of the North. The winner will be picked at random and notified shortly afterwards.
– The prize are as stated in the competition text, are not transferable to another individual and no cash or other alternatives will be offered.
– Prizes are subject to availability and the prize suppliers’ terms and conditions.
Next weekend is spookier than most at BFI Southbank – which is saying something, since the BFI Gothic season rolled into town. The Hauntology weekend takes over, with a screening of the majorly creepy drama-documentary Häxan on Friday 13 December, and on Saturday night, a collection of gothic treasures soundtracked by a group of seriously talented musicians – Sarah Angliss and the Spacedog ensemble. Here’s a little more about what you can expect from the shows – scroll down for a chance to win tickets to see Häxan.
The ensemble was put together by Sarah Angliss, a composer, automatist and theremin player, whose singularly unsettling music was recently heard at the National Theatre as a tense underscore to Lucy Prebble’s The Effect. Angliss’ music for Gothic film will be performed by her band: recent Ghost Box guests Spacedog. They’ll be joined byExotic Pylon’s Time Attendant (Paul Snowdon) who will be supplying a new work on simmering, tabletop electronics. There will also be some extemporisations from Bela Emerson, a soloist who works with cello and electronics. Fellow Ghost Box associate Jon Brooks, composer of the haunting Music for Thomas Carnacki (2011), will also be creating a studio piece for the event.
Sourced by Bryony Dixon, the BFI’s curator of silent film, many of the short films inspiring these musicians were made in the opening years of the twentieth century. The Legende du fantôme (1908) and early split screen experiment Skulls Take Over (1901) are on the bill, along with the silent cubist masterpiece The Fall of the House of Usher (US version, 1928) and more.
“There is undoubtedly something uncanny about the earliest of these films”, said Angliss. “Many are stencil-coloured in vibrant hues, adding to that sense of the familiar taking on a strange cast. They seem to demand music that suggests rather than points up the horror, a motif that discomforts as it soothes, or a sweet sound that is somehow sickly, as though heard in a fever.”
Brooks added “the visuals suggest aural textures reminiscent of painted glass, to strange derivatives of stringed instruments. Hopefully I’ve conjured some playfulness amongst the macabre too.”
Adding to the strangeness are Angliss’ automata, who will also be performing live. These include a polyphonic, robotic carillon (bell playing machine) and Hugo, the roboticised head of a ventriloquist’s dummy who is of the same vintage as some of the films. The event will be directed by Emma Kilbey. After the BFI Southbank performance there are plans to take Vault to Gothic revivalist buildings around the UK.
Sarah Angliss is grateful to PRS for Music for financially supporting her new work. Vault: Music for Silent Gothic Treasures is part of the BFI’s Hauntology Weekend, in association with The Wire magazine (Fri 13 Dec – Sat 14 Dec)
To book tickets for Vault: Music for Silent Gothic Treasures, click here http://bit.ly/bfivault. The screening takes places a 8:45pm NTF1, BFI Southbank, Saturday 14 December.
On the Friday night, the Häxan screening will also be accompanied by live music: a specially commissioned score from Demdike Stare.
This 1922 documentary-horror masterpiece explores the effect of superstition on the collective medieval consciousness. Presented for the first time with a BFI-commissioned score by electronic artists Demdike Stare. The duo base their music on samples from old recordings, twisted into new sonic shapes. The blend of Demdike Stare’s resurrected aural phantoms and Christensen’s Satanic horror promises to be a singularly modern yet arcane live experience.
Häxan is a thrilling movie, and an amazing thing to experience on the big screen – an effect that will surely only be enhanced by those “aural phantoms”.
To book tickets for Häxan with Demdike Stare, in association with Wire Magazine, click here. The screening takes place at 7pm in NTF1, BFI Southbank, Friday 13 December. Tickets cost £15 full price – concessions are available.
Win! Win! Win!
To win a pair of tickets to Häxan with Demdike Stare, email the correct answer to this question to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Haxan” in the subject line by noon on Wednesday 11 December 2013.
Which American writer provided the voiceover for Häxan’s jazzy 1968 re-release?
The winner will be chosen at random and notified by email. Good luck!
Back by popular demand, Hitchcock’s silent movies take over the BFI Southbank for a second summer in a row: all of them freshly restored by the BFI experts and all either with live musical accompaniment or a range of very classy recorded scores. You can read more about each film on Silent London here. These are the first feature films Hitchcock ever made, and from the expressionist thriller The Lodger to the rustic comedy of The Farmer’s Wife they are clearly the work of an extremely talented and versatile director. In fact, they were recently inducted into the Unesco Memory of the World register.
All of which Hitchcock fandom is a preamble to saying that I have three pairs of tickets, to a silent Hitchcock screening of your choice, to give away. Hurry, because the season has already started, and I will be choosing the winner on Monday morning. Email the correct answer to this question to email@example.com with “Hitchcock” in the subject line by midnight on Sunday 11 August 2013 for your chance to win.
This blog has been championing the new BFI restoration of Anthony Asquith’s dark and dangerous Undergroundfor quite some time. The recent theatrical release packed out cinemas and the DVDs and Blu-Rays have been flying off the shelves too we hear. Quite right too, as it’s a stunning film: the twisted tale of love triangle that turns violent, with excellent use of London locations and Asquith’s artsy, expressionist lighting and jazzy editing.
But if you are sad that you missed the chance to see Underground on the big screen, turn that frown upside-down this minute. Hackney Attic’s fabulous Filmphonics folk are screening Underground later this month, with live music provided by “one-man silent film orchestra” Igor Outkine. If you haven’t had a chance to see Outkine perform, here’s what Filmphonics have to say about his music:
Like a Russian Rick Wakeman of the button accordion, Igor switches from a conventional instrument to a Midi accordion (a veritable Tardis of an instrument, much more than it appears) from which he coaxes everything from guitar tones and saxophone solos to a James Brown back-up band. He has a unique way of interpreting every nuance of the film, which almost feels like actual dialogue at times.
That you have to see.
The even better news is that you can win a pair of tickets for this screening, just by answering a ridiculously easy question. Email the correct answer to this question to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Underground” in the subject line by noon on Friday 19 July 2013 for your chance to win.
Norah Baring plays Kate in Underground – what is the name of her character in Asquith’s A Cottage on Dartmoor?
The winner will be notified by email. Good luck!
Underground screens at Hackney Attic, Hackney Picturehouse on Sunday 21 July 2013 at 7.30pm presented by Filmphonics with live musical accompaniment by Igor Outkine. To book tickets click here.
Do you feel lucky, Silent Londoners? I hope so, because I am giving away tickets to watch a stone-cold Soviet classic at the marvellous east London venue Hackney Attic. In June, Filmphonics is screening Sergei Eisenstein’s stirring Battleship Potemkin, with live music from Costas Fotopoulos.
Don’t tell me you haven’t seen Potemkin: it’s a landmark of cinema and its violent, vital film-making is utterly unforgettable. Battleship Potemkin is a masterpiece of Eisenstein’s celebrated montage techniques, heart-in-mouth revolutionary propaganda, and in many ways a template for the best in modern action-movie spectacle. So get on it.
To win a pair of tickets to see Battleship Potemkin, simply email the answer to this simple question to email@example.com with Potemkin in the subject header by noon on Friday 14 June 2013.
Competition time again, Silent Londoners, and this time I am giving away tickets for a night of silent film and live music at one of our favourite venues, Hackney Attic. The lucky winner can look forward to an uproarious evening, featuring Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy (in their first film together) and even Felix the Cat – plus a surprise! This latest event in the Filmphonics series has been put on by the silent film fanatics at the Lucky Dog Picturehouse. Here’s what they have to say about it:
The Lucky Dog Picturehouse specialise in providing an authentic 1920’s silent film experience, with live piano soundtrack. Collecting together 5 of the best silent film shorts ever made by some of the world’s greatest silent stars. Buster Keaton attempts to build his new flat-pack home in the stunt-filled ‘One Week’. You’ll find a love-lorn Charlie Chaplin in ‘The Pawn Shop’. Laurel & Hardy team up for the first time ever in ‘The Lucky Dog’ (featuring a dog to rival Uggie from The Artist). To balance the dog ‘Felix the Cat’ makes a madcap appearance. And the final film is “TBC” but it might involve a certain “Trip to the Moon”. All of the films will be scored by live keyboard accompaniment. Just as they were supposed to be seen.
To win a pair of tickets to the Lucky Dog Picturehouse night, simply email the answer to this simple question to firstname.lastname@example.org with Lucky Dog in the subject header by noon on Friday 17 May 2013.
In which British town was Stan Laurel born?
The Lucky Dog Picturehouse night at Hackney Attic is on Sunday 19 May at 7.30pm. Tickets start at 7pm for members (with £2 off if you book for The Great Gatsby the same day). Click here to book and for more information.
Chances to see Irish silents are very far and few between, so this orchestra-accompanied screening of Guests of the Nation promises to be something very special. That title doesn’t refer to Irish hospitality – this film is an adaptation of a Frank O’Connor short story, and the “guests” in question are British hostages of Irish freedom fighters. The author even has a cameo role in the film. It’s a late silent, filmed in the mid-1930s and features a few faces you may recognise from sound films.
I don’t know much about the film myself, but the Barbican website has this to say about it:
Guests of the Nation, preserved in the IFI Irish Film Archive, is one of a handful of indigenous dramas made in Ireland during the silent period and is a remarkable work. Here, we are delighted to present the film with live orchestral accompaniment, with Niall Byrne as the composer and David Brophy conducting.
Based on a short story by Frank O’Connor (a frequent contributor to The New Yorker) reflecting his experience in the Irish War of Independence and Civil War, the film concerns the friendship between British military prisoners and their IRA captors during the War of Independence.
Shot during the summers of 1933 and 1934 by a group of passionate amateurs under the direction of playwright and theatre director, Denis Johnston, the film features early screen performances from the legendary Barry Fitzgerald, Cyril Cusack, Shelah Richards, Hilton Edwards, Denis O’Dea, and, indeed, Frank O’Connor himself.
To win one of three pairs of tickets to see Guests of the Nation at the Barbican, just send the answer to this question to email@example.com by noon on Wednesday 10 April. The winner will be chosen at random from the correct entries.
Guests of the Nation actor Cyril Cusack played the Fireman Captain in which Francois Truffaut film?
The Hackney Attic at London’s newest Picturehouse cinema is becoming to make name for itself as a silent film venue, with recent screenings ranging from Piccadilly to Aelita: Queen of Mars. Heartening news, then, that this trend continues with another Filmphonics presentation of a silent classic this month: Buster Keaton’s groundbreaking comedy The General, on 20 January 2013.
Surely The General needs no introduction from me: the funniest war film you’ll ever see, an astonishing technical achievement and did I mention it was hilarious too? If you need a taster though, you could do worse than this sampler from film critic AO Scott:
There’s more good news: this screening of The General will be accompanied live by the marvellous Costas Fotopoulos on piano.
Costas has now been working for many years as an improvising silent film pianist at BFI Southbank and he has also accompanied silent films at the Barbican Centre, the Prince Charles Cinema, Riverside Studios, Chelsea Arts Club among other venues, as well as scoring many silents in the London Film Festival.
The even better news is that you could get your hands on a free pair of tickets to this screening. Free. To win a pair of tickets to see The General at Hackney Attic, just send the answer to this question to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on Wednesday 16 January. The winner will be chosen at random from the correct entries.
The UK Jewish film festival features screenings across the country from 1-18 November, but we’re especially lucky in London as we will be able to see Edward Sloman’s 1925 silent classic His People, with a new improvised score. The film is set in Manhattan and film historian Tom Gunning praised it, saying that: “few silent films give so thorough a picture of Jewish home life in the American ghetto”.
This is an exciting chance to see the work of a director whose work Kevin Bownlow described as: “remarkable … with a very American smoothness of narrative”. Unfortunately, very many of Sloman’s pictures are now lost, but His People was his biggest commercial success, taking millions at the box office on its original release. It also stars Rudolph Schildkraut, one of the director’s favourite actors: “Whatever you planned with Schildkraut always came off – sometimes even better than you’d dreamed it. Rudolph Schildkraut was one of the great actors of his era,” he told Brownlow in The Parade’s Gone By.
A rare opportunity to see one of the most evocative films of the 1920s with a new, live score. The sights and smells of New York’s bustling immigrant Jewish Lower East Side have seldom been captured better than in this sparkling tale of a generational clash of cultures. The two sons of a Jewish migrant family opt for different paths in life and love, but as the story progresses, assumptions about good and bad are soon firmly challenged.
A classic morality tale with a bold, contemporary cinematic feel, accompanied by an improvised live soundtrack from Sophie Solomon, (violinist and artistic director of the Jewish Music Institute), Quentin Collins (trumpet), Ian Watson (accordion) and Grant Windsor (piano).
To win a pair of tickets to see His People at the Barbican, just send the answer to this question to email@example.com by noon on Friday 9 November. The winner will be chosen at random from the correct entries.
His People director Edward Sloman was born in Britain – but in which city?
You like your silent film screenings with a touch of rock’n’roll? No problem. Filmphonics presents silent movies with live soundtracks in the quirky Hackney Attic venue at the top of the Hackney Picturehouse, and this month they’re showing an out-there Soviet sci-fi classic with a rock score.
Aelita: Queen of Mars (1924) is a futuristic fantasy, about a love affair between a Russian man and a member of Martian royalty. But there’s a twist, of course, and some outlandish headgear too. This is a unique and fascinating film, which you can read more about in this feature from The Quietus.
Aelita was an event. The novel, by Alexey Tolstoy, had been the first undisputed classic of Soviet science fiction. The release of the film was preceded by extensive ‘teaser’ campaigns in Pravda andKinogazeta (“What is the meaning of mysterious signals received by radio stations around the world? Find out on September 30!”). Alexander Exter, the film’s designer, was one of the few Russian futurists to have been on good terms with F.T. Marinetti and spent considerable time in Italy. She had taken part in the Salon des independents in Paris and socialised with Picasso and Braque. Special music had been commissioned to be performed by full orchestra in the cinema at screenings of the (silent) film. It was, perhaps, as film historian Ian Christie has argued “the key film of the New Economic Policy period.” Its release was so successful that many parents named their children ‘Aelita’ after the eponymous Martian princess. Years later, it would lend its name also to a Soviet-made analogue synth.
Minima’s score for the film is really excellent, making use of a cello as well as more traditional rock instruments to draw out the best of this wonderful film.
Aelita: Queen of Mars screens at Hackney Attic on Sunday 16 September at 7.30pm. Tickets start at £7 for members. Find out more here.
To win a pair of tickets to the Aelita: Queen of Mars screening simply email the answer to this simple question to firstname.lastname@example.org with Aelita in the subject header by noon on Wednesday 12 September 2012.
What is the name of the director of Aelita: Queen of Mars?
The news gets better. You can win a pair of tickets to any of these screenings and all you have to do is tell me how much you want to go. Complete one of these sentences in 15 words or fewer to win a pair of tickets to the screening of your choice – as well as a pair of tickets to the Call it a Classic? panel discussion at the beginning of the month. I’ll pick the best sentences with an independent judge and our decision will be final. So make your answer as wise, witty or profound as possible!
I want to see Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans because …
I want to see Man With a Movie Camera because …
I want to see The Passion of Joan of Arc because …
Email your answers to email@example.com with the name of your chosen film in the subject header by noon on Sunday 2 September 2012. For your information, the Passion and Movie Camera screenings will have live musical accompaniment. The Sunrise screening will have a musical score but not live music.
UPDATE: Unfortunately I have just learned that Guy Maddin will no longer be able to attend the Keyhole premiere. The competition is still running, however.
No film director in the world takes more inspiration from early and silent cinema than Guy Maddin does. From his silent short The Heart of the World, to the dreamy textures of his features, such as The Saddest Music in the World and Brand Upon the Brain!, through to his hugely ambitious “lost films” project Spiritismes, Maddin has demonstrated a career-long passion for early cinema. His newest film Keyhole is also heavily influenced by classic Hollywood. AO Scott in the New York Times described it as “a dusty attic full of battered, evocative cultural references … a perfect gateway into the bizarre and fertile world of a unique film artist.”
Canadian director Guy Maddin (My Winnipeg, The Saddest Music in the World) is renowned for his exploration of surreal worlds and ghosts, which most recently has manifested itself in his ongoing Spiritismes project, launched at the Pompidou this March. His latest feature Keyhole, featuring deliciously unhinged performances from Isabella Rossellini, Jason Patric and Udo Kier, is a fabulous and bizarre personal-odyssey-cum-supernatural-thriller that exposes the hidden desires of the Pick family, their phantoms and the gang of thugs who inhabit the shadows of their crumbling home.
Keyhole will premiere at the BFI Southbank on Monday 13th August, at a special screening that will be followed by a Q&A with the director in which he will talk not just about the new film, but about his latest silent project – one that is of particular interest to readers of Silent London.
Guy Maddin’s current project Spiritismes is a unique, live production/online project that brings back to life ‘unrealised, half-finished, lost or abandoned films’ by the great masters of the cinema: Cocteau, Vigo, Murnau … BFI’s special UK Premiere Fundraiser of Keyhole is being presented, courtesy of Soda Pictures, to enable Guy Maddin to ‘channel’ Hitchcock’s lost film The Mountain Eagle. All proceeds from the screening will be donated to the production and Maddin will be in attendance to talk about Keyhole, Hitchcock and Spiritismes.
So, buy a ticket for Monday’s event and you will be helping this acclaimed and distinctive director to recreate the lost Hitchcock film The Mountain Eagle.
To win a pair of tickets to the premiere of Keyhole at BFI Southbank, simply email the answer to this simple question to firstname.lastname@example.org with Keyhole in the subject header by noon on Friday 10 August 2012.
Name Guy Maddin’s hometown in Canada, referred to in the title of one of his most famous films.