Tag Archives: August 2012

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 silentlondontickets@gmail.com 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 silentlondontickets@gmail.com 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.

Anna Pavlova at the BFI: ballet and silent film

Dance and silent cinema have a natural affinity. Many of the earliest films were records of serpentine dances: mesmerising, rainbow-tinted swirls. And these days, when choreographer Matthew Bourne discusses his blockbuster productions with grand sets inspired by German Expressionism, he says: ”it’s almost like pure cinema. It’s like a silent film.”

It’s no surprise then that silent film-makers pointed their camera at the dance stage and the best ballerinas of the day. And the ballet world was fascinated by cinema too. This intriguing article by Henry K Miller relates the thwarted ambitions of Sergei Diaghilev, director of the Ballets Russes, to make a colour film of Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Sleeping Princess. A short season at the BFI this August celebrates one of the greatest ballerinas of all time, Anna Pavlova, who arranged for many of her dances to be filmed and appeared in a feature film too:

‘Next to seeing Pavlova in person, there is no better substitute than seeing her through the mechanism of the kinema.’ So noted a critic in The Guardian following the release of her American feature film, The Dumb Girl of Portici, in 1916. As a ballerina, Anna Pavlova (1881-1931) was as an inspiration; she was also an independent career woman and mega-star loved by the media and her audiences throughout the world. She was also the first major ballerina to truly investigate the medium of film during the 1910s and 1920s. Not only did she star in a Hollywood feature film, but also had a number of her solos filmed. At the end of her life, Pavlova travelled with two movie cameras to record her productions and travels. This season includes documentaries, recordings of dance and features indicating the range of ballets she performed and placing her screen career in context with contemporary recordings of dance.

The BFI will be showing that film, Lois Weber’s The Dumb Girl of Portici (1916), which features this beautiful sequence of Pavlova dancing with an “invisible” partner. The film will be screened with live piano accompaniment and an introduction by dance historian Jane Pritchard.

The Dumb Girl of Portici is an adaptation of the French opera of the same name. Watch out for the character Masaniello, who is played by Rupert Julian, the same man who directed The Phantom of the Opera in 1925, which opens with this gorgeous ballet scene:

You can see The Phantom of the Opera at the Volupté Lounge on 19 August with a live score by electronic duo Cipher.

In the BFI’s Pavlova season, there will also be a chance to see Evgeni Bauer’s The Dying Swan (1917), in which Vera Karalli, a Russian silent film actor and dancer with the Bolshoi ballet, performs the famous routine from Swan Lake. The film will be shown alongside an Omnibus documentary about Pavlova, and with a score by Joby Talbot.

Click here for more details of the BFI’s Anna Pavlova season.

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari with Martyn Jacques at the Soho Theatre, July & August 2012

Martyn Jacques and his accordion
Martyn Jacques and his accordion

Well I do enjoy posting news of silent film screenings, but 12 in a row takes some beating. Martyn Jacques, of punk-cabaret band The Tiger Lillies, will perform his own score to expressionist classic The Cabinet of Dr Caligari at the Soho Theatre this summer four days a week, three weeks on the trot. Jacques is known for his eccentric performances and his powerful falsetto voice – he will accompany himself and the film on piano and accordion.

It’s very lazy blogging to copy and paste Wikipedia. However, this is really all the introduction to Mr Jacques you’ll need I feel:

Martyn Jacques spent 7 years living above a brothel in Soho while training his characteristic falsetto voice. In his Tiger Lillies appearances, Jacques commonly sings about “sexual perversions, seedy underbellies, the gruesome, macabre and visceral”. Jacques has been described as enjoying when audience members walk out of his shows, noting “It’s always funny when people are offended by what I do … after all, I’m just an entertainer.”

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920)

So this is clearly not going to be your common-or-garden silent film screening. However, Jacques is a devotee of silent cinema and this is a very personal project for him:

‘When I was fourteen my childhood desire to play the piano was finally satisfied. My first teacher was Florence De Jong. This was forty years ago and Florence was a very old lady. She had been a famous theatre organist accompanying silent films. She was so good she made gramophone recordings. I’ve always remembered her and this is my tribute to her and the profession. Silent films were for me the golden age of film. They had a magic and enigma you don’t get with talkies. Dr Calagari is a fine example. A freak show in the fairground…
If you’re not familiar with The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, you have a treat ahead. It’s a nightmarish, audacious and superbly stylish horror film, featuring a carnival, a sinister medic, a bloodthirsty somnambulist and a string of murders, let alone some mindbending sets and unforgettable imagery. It sounds as if Jacques’ music could be the perfect fit.
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari screens at the Soho Theatre in London from 25 July to 11 August 2012. To find out more and to buy tickets, visit the Soho Theatre website.