Category Archives: Competition

Win tickets for Aelita: Queen of Mars with Minima at Hackney Attic

Filmphonics presents Aelita: Queen of Mars
Filmphonics presents Aelita: Queen of Mars

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 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?

Good luck!

Win tickets to watch the greatest silent films of all time at BFI Southbank

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, The Passion of Joan of Arc and Man With a Movie Camera
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, The Passion of Joan of Arc and Man With a Movie Camera

Sight & Sound’s decennial poll of the Greatest Films of All Time attracted a lot of attention earlier this summer, when the critics toppled Citizen Kane off the number one spot, using Vertigo as a battering ram. Of far more interest to us was the fact that three, yes, three silents made their way into the top 10, with Battleship Potemkin skulking just outside.

This is great news for silent fans in that airy-fairy way that we like to see our best-loved titles acknowledged – and these three films are undoubtedly classics. They are my favourite, Murnau’s sublime Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, Dreyer’s unforgettably cathartic The Passion of Joan of Arc and Vertov’s exhilarating experiment Man With A Movie Camera. There is a more substantial reason to get excited though: all the films in the Sight & Sound top 10 will be shown at the BFI Southbank in September – and you’ll find these silents already on the calendar.

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 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.

Win tickets to the premiere of Guy Maddin’s Keyhole at the BFI

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.

Isabella Rossellini in Guy Maddin's Keyhole
Isabella Rossellini in Guy Maddin’s Keyhole

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 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.

Good luck!

Win tickets to watch silent films at the BFI this summer

Don’t forget that the BFI’s Genius of Hitchcock retrospective begins in earnest this month. In fact, you can kick off the celebration with a Blackmail silent-and-sound double-bill tonight. For the other silents in the season, check the Silent London Calendar.

First off you won’t want to miss the theatrical release of The Lodger on 10 August – there’s a special screening at BFI Southbank featuring a Q&A with composer Nitin Sawhney too.

Next month, you’ll want to note some other Hitchcock dates in your diary to see the new restorations of his silent films. There’s a second chance to see The Pleasure Garden with Daniel Patrick Cohen’s marvellous score on 13 September. Downhill will screen with a live score from beatboxer Shlomo on 20 September and there’s a screening of Champagne with “boldly classical” music from Mira Calix on 27 September. There’s the restoration premiere of Easy Virtue on 28 September, too.

Plus, it has now been announced that The Manxman will be this year’s London film festival archive gala, screening at the Empire Leicester Square on 19 October with a new score from Stephen Horne. If you saw last year’s gala screening of The First Born, also with a score by Horne, you’ll know this isn’t be missed.

Back to August, the BFI is showing a fine roster of other silent films, including Greed, The Dumb Girl of Portici featuring Anna Pavlova, and Drifters, with a live score from sound artist Jason Singh. Search to find out more on the BFI website.

To win a pair of tickets to the any silent screening at the BFI this month, simply email the answer to this simple question to with August in the subject header by noon on Friday 3 August 2012.

  • What is the name of Hitchcock’s lost silent feature film, starring Nita Naldi?

The Genius of Hitchcock season runs until October and showcases a complete retrospective of his films, from his early British silents, to his later Hollywood classics. Also included in the season is a dedicated microsite, The 39 Steps to Hitchcock, which is a step-by-step guide through one man’s genius, featuring exclusive film extracts, interviews with close collaborators (Kim Novak, Tippi Hedren and more) and a journey through his life and career through galleries curated by Hitchcock experts.

Win tickets to the British Silent Film Festival

The Ghost That Never Returns (1929)
The Ghost That Never Returns (1929)

This year’s British Silent Film Festival has an extraordinarily full schedule of films, talks and gala screenings. Whether you favour Soviet gem The Ghost That Never Returns with the full-throttle rockin’ blues of the Dodge Brothers (featuring Mark Kermode), Miles Mander’s sophisticated drama The First Born with Stephen Horne‘s elegant, haunting score, or some much-loved but little-seen favourites from the archives, there should be something to tempt you. And the whole thing takes place in the beautiful city of Cambridge this year (just 45 minutes from the Big Smoke by train).

You can read the whole schedule here. And buy tickets for individual screenings, as well as day or weekend passes, here.

BUT, very excitingly, the British Silent Film Festival has been kind enough to give away some tickets for free! To you beautiful Silent Londoners. To win a pair of tickets to a screening of your choice, just send the answer to this super-easy question to me, at

  • What is the name of the French silent film-maker whose life was dramatised in Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning film Hugo (2911)?

The winner will be chosen at random from the correct answers at 1pm on Wednesday 18 April 2012, when the competition closes – and then notified by email. Good luck, and see you in Cambridge!

Carl Dreyer competition: the winners are …

Once Upon a Time (1922)
Once Upon a Time (1922)

Thanks to all of you who entered the Carl Dreyer competition. The standard of entries was very high – you’re all very smart, and witty too, Unfortunately for us, my fellow judge Max and I had the difficult task of selecting three winners, each of whom will receive a free pair of tickets to a screening of their choice from the BFI’s Carl Dreyer season. This is a silent film blog, so you’ll just have to imagine the drum-roll, but the winners are, in no particular order:

Thanks again for entering. Look out for more competitions on Silent London soon, including this one.


The Cinematic Race to the South Pole – competition

The Great White Silence (1924)
The Great White Silence (1924)

If you’ve seen The Great White Silence, Herbert Ponting’s devastating film of RF Scott’s Antarctic expedition, or Frank Hurley’s South, which follows Ernest Shackleton’s voyage through the same freezing waters, you’ll know this is an exciting piece of archive programming. The BFI’s Cinematic Race to the South Pole season features footage of expeditions by Scott, Shackleton and yes, Amundsen too, in three themed packages. You can read more about it here.

Thanks to the touching generosity of the BFI, I’m giving away a pair of tickets to a screening in the season along with a gorgeous poster for The Great White Silence. To enter, all you have to do is send an email. No question this time!

To win a pair of tickets to the BFI Southbank’s season commerating the race to the South Pole PLUS a copy of the BFI poster for the film The Great White Silence, simply email with Silent in the subject header by 10 March 2012.

Win tickets to watch Faust at the Royal Festival Hall

It’s already one of the most exciting silent film events of the year – and could be the perfect way to celebrate (fingers and toes crossed) a silent film winning the Best Picture Oscar on Sunday night. FW Murnau’s classic Faust (1926), screens at the Royal Festival Hall on Monday 27 February, with a new score by Aphrodite Raickopoulou, performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra and accompanied by improvisation from acclaimed pianist Gabriela Montero. Hugh Grant will introduce the film and the orchestra will be conducted by Benjamin Wallfisch. Read more here.

If you want to win one of ten pairs of tickets to watch this wonderful film with its fantastic new score, just answer this simple question:

  • We all know that FW Murnau directed Faust. But what do his initials FW stand for?

Email your answer to with FAUST in the subject line, by noon on Friday, 24 February 2012. The winners will be picked at random from the correct entries and emailed with the good news. Best of luck!

Win tickets for The Passion of Carl Dreyer season at BFI Southbank

Once Upon a Time (1922)
Once Upon a Time (1922)

The announcement of March’s Carl Dreyer retrospective at BFI Southbank is some of the best news I’ve had in ages. In fact I was so thrilled, I previewed the silent films in the season here. More importantly, I hopped on to the Carl Dreyer website and made a film about it. It’s easy to make your own Dreyer movie – just type in your name, write three intertitles for the King of Illyria and his messenger and voila.

The reason I’m telling you this is that the BFI has kindly offered readers of this blog the chance to win one of three pairs of tickets to a screening of your choice in the Dreyer season. I’m going to give the tickets to the three people who make the best Dreyer movie – so follow this link, make a film and email the results to The three best entries will win a pair of tickets and I will post them on the blog too. Enjoy, channel your inner Scandinavian and good luck!

The competition closes on 28 February 2012. The judges’ decision is, of course, final.

Win tickets for The First Born at the London Film Festival

Miles Mander’s edgy, sophisticated silent drama The First Born is one of the most exciting recent rediscoveries of British silent cinema – and it will be presented in style at this year’s London Film Festival.

A philandering politician, the double standards of the upper classes, jealousy, miscegenation and a generation torn between centuries of tradition and a more modern morality… the plot of The First Born feels not unlike a lost episode of Downton Abbey. Sir Hugo Boycott (Miles Mander) and his young bride (a pre-blonde Madeleine Carroll) have a passionate relationship, but it founders when she fails to produce an heir. This is a surprisingly ‘adult’ film and made with both elegance and invention. Particularly surprising among Mander’s sometimes Hitchcockian box of visual tricks is a handheld camera sequence that allows the audience to become voyeur as Boycott stalks the marital bedroom to find his wife in the bath. The story is oddly reflected in reality: the ‘first born’ is played by Mander’s own son and it was well known that the leads were involved romantically – well enough known to bring Mander’s wife to the set to demand an explanation. This major new restoration by the BFI National Archive includes reinstated missing footage and the reintroduction of a beautiful range of tints.

This very special film will be screened at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank, with a new score by Stephen Horne, performed by three musicians. You can find out more about the film, and the score, here. The music you can hear on the extract above is not an extract from the new score, but a piece that Horne wrote especially for the clip. I think you’ll agree it sounds marvellous.

So, do you fancy a free pair of tickets to this special Archive Gala performance? To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets to see The First Born at the London Film Festival, just answer this simple question:

  • The First Born was co-written by Alma Reville. Which famous film director was she married to?

Email your answer to by noon on Monday 10 October. The winner will be picked at random from the correct entries and emailed with the good news. Best of luck!

To find out more, and to book tickets, visit the London Film Festival website.

Terms and Conditions

  • The prize is non-transferable and there is no cash alternative available.
  • Recipients must be 16 or over and able to attend the screening at 19:30 on 20 October at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Win tickets for Underground with the BBC Symphony Orchestra

There’s nothing like seeing a film with a live orchestra – it’s far more exciting than surround sound. That’s why at Silent London we’re so excited about the world premiere of Neil Brand’s score for Anthony Asquith’s Underground (1928), which will be performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra on 5 October.

Undergound is set in London, among what Asquith called “everyday” people, but that doesn’t mean that this is an unsophisticated film. Far from it. The director’s appreciation of European and Russian cinema (he was a co-founder of the London Film Society) is betrayed by his use of Expressionist shadows, subjective camerawork and montage editing. This is 1920s London, but not like you may have seen before.

Underground tells the story of four young working people making their way in 1920s London. The parallels with life in the metropolis today are poignant and it is fascinating to see location footage of the Underground network, old London pubs, department stores and of course the climactic chase through the Lots Road Power Station in Chelsea … Asquith had a remarkable ability to portray the lighter and darker aspects of life through staging and cinematography. He was aided by the superb and unusually good-looking cast of Brian Aherne and Elissa Landi as the nice young couple, with Norah Baring and Cyril McLaglen as the unluckier, troubled duo.

The print of Underground that will be shown at the Barbican is the product of many hours of restoration work by the BFI, using new, cutting-edge techniques. The BBC Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Timothy Brock.

To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets to watch Underground at the Barbican Concert Hall, just answer this simple question:

  • Cyril McLaglen, who plays Bert in Underground, had an older brother who was also a film actor. What was his name?

Email your answer to by noon on Monday 26 September. The winner will be picked at random from the correct entries and emailed with the good news. Best of luck!

To find out more, and to book tickets, visit the Barbican website.

Win tickets to see A Cottage on Dartmoor at the Barbican

A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929)
A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929)

“Will you come with me to a talkie to-night?” From the moment we first see that intertitle in A Cottage on Dartmoor – we know we’re in for a fright or two. Anthony Asquith’s classic silent film is the story of a violent love triangle told in a sinister flashback by an escaped convict. The menacing tone is interspersed with some adventurous visual flourishes, a very English sense of humour and an unforgettable glimpse of an audience’s reaction to an early sound film. Bryony Dixon has said in her recent book 100 Silent Films that: “of all the British silent films now resurfacing A Cottage on Dartmoor is the most significant rediscovery”. You really don’t want to miss this one.

A Cottage on Dartmoor screens at the Barbican Cinema at 4pm on Sunday, with live musical accompaniment from Stephen Horne. To win a pair of tickets to this screening, just answer this simple question:

  • What is the name of the first film that Anthony Asquith directed?

Send your answer to by noon on Friday 9 September. The winner will be picked at random from the correct entries and emailed with the good news. Best of luck!

Win tickets for The Seashell and the Clergyman and silent shorts at the Prince Charles Cinema

Symphonie Diagonale (1924)
Symphonie Diagonale (1924)

If your tastes run to the outer fringes of silent cinema – to the surreal, the avant-garde and the experimental – no doubt you already have your eyes on the Prince Charles Cinema’s next silent film screening. The west end cinema has collaborated with the band Minima to put on a night of short films, The Seashell and the Clergyman, Symphonie Diagonale and H2O, on Thursday 30 June. Full details here. Here’s a little taster of what you can expect:

The really, really good news is that I have a pair of tickets for this show to give away to one of the readers of this blog. Just take a look at this simple question:

  • Who directed The Seashell and the Clergyman?

Email your answer to by Tuesday 28 June. The winner will be picked at random from the correct entries and emailed with the good news. Best of luck!

Win tickets to watch The Great White Silence at the BFI

The Great White Silence (1924)
The Great White Silence (1924)

There’s a chill in the air at BFI Southbank this summer, and I’m not just talking about the Russian invasion. The Great White Silence (1924), Herbert Ponting’s haunting film about RF Scott’s tragic expedition to the South Pole is on nationwide release from 20 May, so it’s getting an extended run at BFI Southbank.

The film’s devastating imagery and its innovative, mournful score by Simon Fisher Turner definitely deserve the big-screen treatment, so enter our competition and you could win a pair of tickets to any BFI Southbank screening of The Great White Silence. Just answer this simple question:

  • What was the name of the Norwegian explorer who beat Scott and his crew to the South Pole?

Email your answer to by Thursday 19 May. The winner will be picked at random from the correct entries and emailed with the good news. Best of luck!

Win tickets to watch Pandora’s Box at the Prince Charles Cinema

Pandora's Box (1929)
Pandora's Box (1929)

Time for some exclamation mark abuse, I feel. Louise Brooks! In Pandora’s Box! On the big screen! For free!

It’s true. The Prince Charles Cinema has generously donated a pair of tickets to see Pandora’s Box on 26 May to one lucky reader of this blog. All you have to do is answer a simple silent film question and drop me an email. This is the question:

  • Louise Brooks made one more film with director GW Pabst after Pandora’s Box. What was it called?

Know the answer? Then email both your answer and your full name to by 11 May 2011. When the closing date rolls around I will pick one correct answer at random and the fortunate emailer will receive two free tickets to the Pandora’s Box screening on 26 May. Simple as that. Good luck!