It’s not over yet, but 2011 has been a stonking year for silent film with live music in the UK. We’ve had orchestras, skiffle bands, sitars, string quartets and even piano accompaniment, alongside some wonderful films. As is now traditional (almost) I want to celebrate this by asking you for your highlights of the year.
What were the standout silent film and live music shows for you in 2011? The Passion of Joan of Arc with Adrian Utley and Will Gregory’s rock score, or Voices of Light? The BBC Symphony Orchestra playing Neil Brand’s wonderful score for Underground? Stephen Horne’s London Film Festival Archive Gala performance of The First Born? Perhaps you preferred the Dodge Brother’s skiffle soundtrack for Beggars of Life or The Ghost That Never Returns. Maybe you were lucky enough to catch a live performance of Simon Fisher Turner’s experimental music for The Great White Silence, or one of many shows from last year’s winners, Minima. And let’s not forget John Garden’s tour of The Lost World or the Elysian Quartet’s reconstructed score for The Old and the New. There are, of course, far too many to mention here – you may have heard an organ score in a cathedral or museum that you liked, or a piano accompaniment in the BFI that was particularly memorable.
What I’d like to do is to collect your nominations for your favourite show in the UK this year and then I’ll be running a poll on the website in a fortnight’s time. It’s kind of like The X Factor, but not much. So, please, nominate your favourite shows in the comments below, or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter. I can’t wait to find out what you’ve chosen!
Nominations close at noon on Sunday 18 December and the poll should go live on Monday morning.
The Silent London End of Year Poll was never going to rival the ones you read in Sight & Sound and the broadsheets, I suppose. But I was heartened that so many of you did respond to my call for the best silent film show of 2010 – and fascinated by your choices, too. The big surprise was that no one mentioned Metropolis. There were a few votes for freshly restored Chaplin films, one for Natalie Clein’s sensitive cello score for The Temptress at Kings Place in May, a tantalising description of Stephen Horne’s soundtrack to La Princess Mandane as “genius” from Pam Cook on Twitter, a shout-out for the witty The Golden Butterfly (both shown as part of the Fashion in Film festival) and a “riotous” village-hall screening of Seven Chances (1925). Luke McKernan picked two films, both of which he described as “wildly obscure”: an anthropological documentary called Rituals and Festivals of the Borôro that screened at Pordenone and another vote for Stephen Horne, with his reconstruction of the score for The Battle of the Ancre and the Advance of the Tanks (1917). Not seen those? Never mind – I’m sure you’ll sympathise with McKernan’s conclusion that the first film: “reminded me of why film is the most compelling medium, and silent film especially so”. But finally, with a whopping two votes (one on Twitter and another by email), the winner is the East End Film Festival’s screening of Hitchcock’s The Lodger, soundtracked by Minima. Congratulations – I was there as well and I thought it was a marvellous evening.
There are a heck of a lot of end-of-year lists floating around at the moment. But most of them are dominated by talkies. To rectify this, allow me to present The Silent London End of Year Poll. I’m looking for the best silent film show of the year – anywhere in the world. And I’d like your help.
If you love going to watch silent films with live music then there have been ample opportunities to indulge your passion this year. The scene is thriving in London, not that we wouldn’t like to see more screenings. And my Twitter spies tell me that from New York to Paris to California to Sussex people are enjoying silent cinema shows of all kinds. So what has been your personal highlight of 2010? The show that introduced you to silent film or reinvigorated your appreciation of it? A new film or musician that blew you away – or a classic done just right?