So, yesterday I spent the afternoon in the cinema watching 18 movies. Jealous, right? I was lucky enough to be part of the judging panel for the Walthamstow International Film Festival and we were watching the shortlisted works in order to hand out some prizes. It’s a fun job, and a great local festival that I am chuffed to be a tiny part of. All the entries are around five minutes or less, and while the festival encourages local film-makers, particularly young people, it is open to all, and this year we saw films from as far away as Australia, Argentina and Hong Kong. Our overall winner was the fantastically moving, and intriguing, Speed by Jessica Bishop – a film that interrogates the grieving process by counterpointing family photos and voices. A worthy winner indeed.
File this one under Not Quite Silent Film – but that doesn’t mean it won’t be of interest to the esteemed readers of this blog. And if you scroll down, you’ll be able to get yourself a special deal on tickets too.
Pioneered by Whirlygig Cinema and film-score artists The Cabinet of Living Cinema, Making Tracks is an ongoing interactive event that provides a unique platform for new filmmakers to get their work seen. The premise is simple; Whirlygig seek out amazing films to showcase, strip them of their original soundtracks, and The Cabinet perform brand new live re-scores. It is a perfect way for filmmakers who have had problems with music copyright to get their work screened in public.
Put simply, Making Tracks is all about the magical combination of movies and live music, and even if the films themselves weren’t originally silent, they will be on the night. They can be, however, and you may remember that the award-winning short film Dogged featured at a Making Tracks night a few months back.
Here’s a lovely blog review of a Making Tracks night that puts it in context of the silent film revival and how lucky we are in London to have so many silent film and live music screenings.
With a live soundtrack you feel the vibrations, hear and see everything intensely, get a few shivers down your spine, and share your entrapment in the vision of the filmmaker with your fellow audience.
Making Tracks returns on 30 May at the very hip Rich Mix arts centre in east London. You can find out more details on the Making Tracks website, but the properly fantastic news is that if you follow this link, you can get a special two for one deal on tickets. Don’t forget to tell them I sent you!
Yes, you can watch silent films outside the arthouse circuit – in a West End cinema, with a packet of popcorn and a cold beer. That’s just how cool London is. And I much as I love a good retrospective, it’s a top night out. Which is why I’m excited to announce this very exciting film screening on The Prince Charles Cinema‘s silent slate.
In June, the hugely popular and accomplished rock band Minima will accompany a selection of experimental shorts at the Prince Charles Cinema – this won’t be your common-or-garden night at the flicks. Topping the bill is The Seashell and the Clergyman (1928), a pioneering surreal film directed by Germaine Dulac and written by Antonin Artaud. The writer apparently loathed the film and called the director a “cow”, when he saw it. The British censors were none-too-impressed either, saying famously: “The film is so cryptic as to be almost meaningless. If there is a meaning, it is doubtless objectionable.” You want to see it now, don’t you?
We can also expect to see Viking Eggeling’s 1924 avant-garde geometric film Symphonie Diagonale and Ralph Steiner’s H20, an experimental “tone poem” on the theme of water, from 1929. It’s great that this cinema is showing something a little out of the ordinary on its big screen – there’s far more to silent cinema than the Hollywood hits, and this is a fantastic way to celebrate that.
The Seashell and the Clergyman screens at 8.30m on 30 June 2011. Tickets cost £11 or £7 for members and they’re available here. Check out the Facebook page here. You can buy Minima’s Seashell soundtrack CD on their website, and no doubt it will be available on the night too.