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2013 Festival Films

PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC 1928 France  82min
Director: Carl T. Dreyer
Renée Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, André  Berley
Co-produced with Scaramella

"The Passion of Joan of Arc is an unsettling experience—so intimate we fear we will discover more secrets than we desire." —Roger Ebert

In 1928, Carl Theodor Dreyer turned the story of Joan of Arc’s final hours into one of cinema’s most profound works. And his star—stage actress Renée Falconetti—delivered what critic Pauline Kael later called the finest performance ever recorded on film. Dreyer’s masterpiece remains an acknowledged classic: ranking ninth in this year’s Sight & Sound poll.

This screening of The Passion of Joan of Arc will feature the world premiere of Tom Peter’s newly composed score, to be performed live by Peters and Joelle Morton, Artistic Director of Scaramella.

Keynote Speaker: Alicia Fletcher

Tom Peters sample
Joan of Arc Review  

Tokyo Chorus 1931  Japan 90min
Director: Yasujiro Ozu
Tokihiko Okada, Emiko Yagumo, Hideo Sugawara, Hideko Takamine
Musical  Interpretation: Laura Silberberg

A man with a young family loses his job.

Few could make this the stuff of comedy, but then, there were few directors as gifted as Yasujiro Ozu. Tokyo Chorus, the finest of Ozu’s surviving silents, blends delicacy, sensitivity, and farce, creating a film experience you will never forget.

Often overlooked when best-of lists are made, Tokyo Chorus deserves to be ranked alongside Ozu classics such as Tokyo Story and Late Spring.

Introduced by Chris MaGee, Shinedesi Film Festival
Silent Volume Review

The Crowd 1928 USA 98min
Director: King Vidor
Eleanor Broadman, James Murray
Musical Interpretation: Laura Silberberg

John Sims, born on the 4th of July, seems destined for a future as promising as America’s own. But director King Vidor has other plans.

In his trademark naturalistic style, Vidor paints a picture of human struggle both universal and unique. The Crowd asks many tough questions, but none tougher than this: in a world like ours, what makes us think we’re special?

Print courtesy of film historian Lou Sabina

The Best Films of TUFF 2012 (Toronto Urban Film Festival)

1000 Laffs: Slapstick Smorgasbord
Laurel & Hardy, Charley Chase, Max Davidson, Roscoe Arbuckle, Harold Lloyd
Musical Interpretation: Fern Lindzon

Programmer Chris Seguin works his usual magic with this side splitting collection of comedies.

My Best Girl  1927 USA 80min
Director: Sam Taylor
Mary Pickford, Charles "Buddy" Rogers, Lucien Littlefield, Sunshine Hart
Musical Interpretation: Clark Wilson on the Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ

Maggie Johnson (Mary Pickford) is the hard-driving breadwinner for a shiftless family. But when she notices Joe Grant, her handsome new co-worker at the five-and-ten, her priorities change. Too bad Joe’s hiding a secret that can drive them apart.

My Best Girl was Pickford’s final silent film, and one of her greatest. The star’s talents, still at their peak, are further enriched by the cinematography of Charles Rosher, who was fresh from photographing Sunrise. This simple tale of love and laughs is one of the highlights of the late-silent period.

The Railrodder 1965
Canada 24min
Director: Gerald Potterton
Buster Keaton
The General  1926
USA 78min
Director: Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton, Marion Mack
"There were two loves in his life. His engine, and his sweetheart Annabelle."
So when the train gets stolen with Annabelle aboard, there’s only one thing for engineer Johnny Gray to do.

Give chase.

Considered by most critics and fans to be Buster Keaton’s greatest achievement, The General’s array of sight gags, twists and turns have been blowing audiences away for nearly a century. A comedy that’s always on-track, The General is a must-see for anyone.

This screening of The General will be accompanied by Australia’s Viola Dana Quartet.

2012 lineup...

1928 USA 84min
Director: Harry Beaumont
Joan Crawford, Anita Page, Dorothy Sebastian, John Mack Brown, Nils Asther

Musical Interpretation: Andrei Streliaev

Clara Bow may have been the “IT” girl, but Joan Crawford was the ultimate flapper. The film that cemented Joan’s star status, a rank she kept for more than forty years, Our Dancing Daughters is a love letter to the Jazz Age and all its short skirts, bathtub gin, petting parties and loosening morals.
Diana Medford, aka Dangerous Diana, is sassy, beautiful and smart: the quintessential late-20s rebel. But behind the flirting and the late night persona is a heart of gold. Diana secretly falls in love with the handsome Ben—and her gold-digging best friend, Ann, sets her sights on him too. May the best girl win!

Further Reading:

Plus: "Animation from the Lawless Days" Cinderella 1922 Lotte Reiniger
& The Best Animated Films of TUFF 2011
(Toronto Urban Film Festival)

84min w/ original 1931 release musical track
Director: F. W. Murnau
Matahi, Anne Chevalier /Reri, Hitu, Bill Bambridge

Tabu is one of cinema’s simplest, most lyrical and masterful expressions of a despairing romanticism succumbing to the realities of a world from which none of us can escape. Its haunting imagery is intrinsically lovely, its rhythms unique, its denouement overwhelming.”
—Charles Silver, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Paradise, or Paradise Lost? Young love blossoms between a pearl diver (Matahi) and a pretty girl (Reri) against the backdrop of a pristine South Seas world. But just as they’ve found happiness with each other, fate intervenes: Reri is chosen as the sacred maiden and declared ‘tabu’ to all men. The young lovers flee the island and travel far away, to a place where no one knows them. They’re forced into the confusing and corrupt white man’s world and hunted down by their own people, determined to retrieve Reri.

Plus: "Animation from the Lawless Days"  tba with Musical Interpretation by Bill Lasovich

1922 USA 80min
Director: Fred Niblo
Rudolph Valentino, Nita Naldi, Lila Lee

Musical Interpretation: Andrei Streliaev

There were movie stars, and then, there was Valentino. No legend of the Silent Era epitomized the idolatry of fans more than Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antonguolla. Worshiped as “The Latin Lover”, his every move breathlessly reported, there was nothing less than mass hysteria when he died suddenly at age 31.

Blood and Sand, the icon plays Juan Gallardo, a poor village boy whose talent leads him into the bullring. He becomes the most famous matador in Spain and marries his childhood sweetheart, the beautiful Carmen (Lila Lee)—his life is complete. But his fame and fortune also lead him into the clutches of the seductive Dona Sol (Nita Naldi). They embark on a torrid, almost sadomasochistic affair that rips Juan’s world apart.

Plus: "Animation from the Lawless Days" Koko and the Cartoon Factory 1925 Fleischer Studios

Musical Interpretation: Bill O'Meara

Comedy, chemistry and camaraderie.
When you think about silent comedy (IF you think about silent comedy) the people who come to mind are iconoclastic individuals: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. Rebels and loners on a solitary quest against a harsh world.
But this year’s silent comedy screening puts the emphasis on playful pairings that prove that two (or three) heads are funnier than one.

Buster Keaton & Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle
Buster Keaton served his cinematic apprenticeship with Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle who, at the time Buster met him, was second only to Charlie Chaplin in box office popularity. The two men were instantly simpatico; the slight, stone-faced Keaton being the perfect partner for the boisterous Arbuckle to bounce off of. Even though Roscoe took above-the-title billing in every film, by the time of one of their last collaborations,
Backstage, Buster had graduated from supporting player to co-star to co-director. When ‘Fatty’ graduated to feature-length films in 1920, he simply handed the keys to the studio over to Buster. The rest, as they say, is history.

Charlie Chaplin, Edna Purviance & Eric Campbell
Charlie Chaplin once said that all he needed to make a comedy was “a park, a policeman and a pretty girl”. But in eleven of his twelve two-reelers for the Mutual Film Company, he changed the formula to a
villain and a pretty girl, no matter what the setting was. The villain was inevitably the giant, bearded Eric Campbell, with Edna Purviance as the girl. Together, they formed the perfect comedy troika – Beauty, Beast, and the Little Guy stuck in the middle. And no sad and lonely Little Tramp trudging off into the horizon in The Cure – Chaplin made this one strictly for laughs.

Harry Langdon & Vernon Dent
One of the most peculiar comics of the silent era, Harry Langdon portrayed a strange man-child ill equipped for most of what any human being might encounter here on the planet Earth. What he needed was a guiding hand – a grown-up – to lead the way. That grown-up was usually played by Vernon Dent, a burly authority figure who’s half-Daddy, half-bad influence. In
Saturday Afternoon, the teamwork is based on a simple premise: Harry is eager to please, Vernon is hard to please. Especially when Harry introduces him to two women who “won’t do”.

Larry Semon & Stan Laurel
Larry Semon did things big. Big, big, big. And, supposedly, nothing was bigger than his ego – nobody onscreen could be funnier than him. But in
Frauds & Frenzies he’s partnered up with a young Stan Laurel (at the very beginning of his film career, without future playmate Oliver Hardy) and very obviously having a great time. Legend has it that somebody at the studio saw the film-in-progress and said “this guy Laurel’s funnier than Semon”, prompting Larry to hack out the remainder of Laurel’s scenes. But trust me, Semon was no dummy – he didn’t need anyone to tell him Stan Laurel was pretty darn funny. That’s why he hired him.

Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy
Mr. Laurel & Mr. Hardy will be presented in another nice mess. No purer partnership ever existed.

Chris Seguin, Comedy programmer

Director: Réne Clair
Albert Préjean, Olga Tschechowa, Geymond Vital
A co presentation with the Toronto Theatre Organ Society

“A fleet, light-fingered gem with the befuddled energy and knockabout momentum of a Harold Lloyd movie, the crisscrossing characters of a screwball comedy, and the continental attitude and sparkling wit of a Lubitsch film…”
—Sean Axmaker

A groom’s wedding day is comically doomed when, en route to the church, his horse eats the hat of a married lady on a secret tryst with her beau, a rather fierce officer. The groom’s frantic attempts to solve the situation—by trying to find a duplicate hat—catapult this satire of bourgeois manners into intricate, spinning anarchy.
Transposing the action of the original 1851 stage farce to the summer of 1895 (the birth of cinema), Rene Clair directs one of the most sophisticated French films of the late Silent Era, with a touch of wistfulness for the Belle Époque, surrealism, fantasy and good old-fashioned nonsense.

VARIETÉ / VARIETY 1925 Germany 72min
Director: E. A. Dupont
Emil Jannings, Lya de Putti, Warwick Ward, Maly Delschaft

Musical Interpretation: Laura Silberberg

Boss Huller, a famous aerialist before suffering an accident that ended his career, has never revealed his motives for the murder that sent him to prison…until now.
The classic love triangle between Boss, his alluring wife and the handsome trapeze artist who comes between them, unfolds in
Varieté, one of the most renowned German expressionist films. The innovative “swinging camera” of cinematographer Karl Freund (Last Laugh, Metropolis), is on display here, making the movie’s acrobatic scenes as thrilling today as they were in 1925. Listed as one of the top films of that year by critics, and a box office hit in both Europe and the USA, Varieté ensured the continuing influence of German artists on Hollywood, right through to the end of the silent era.

Plus: "Animation from the Lawless Days" The Cameraman's Revenge 1912 Ladislaw Starewicz

The Force That Through the Green Fire Fuels The Flower 2011 directed by Otto Kylmälä  UK/Finland
"The work has its own mesmerizing tone; it really rewards the eye and ear. It's smart and moving. A thoroughly accomplished work."
-Guy Maddin

The 2011 line up...

1926 Italy 66min
Director: Guido Bregnone
Bartolomeo Pagano, Umberto Guarracino, Mario Salo, Elana Sangro
Musical interpretation ANDREW DOWNING - Toronto

Enter the surreal and visually dazzling world that inspired Fellini to become a director. The strongest, most virtuous man on earth is lured into a baroque hell where he must resist the allure of sensual devils and fight his way back to earth.

aprox 30 min. total
Musical interpretation by BILL LASOVICH

A selection of a dozen short subjects ranging from 20 sec to 6min. that would have been part of the travelling cinemas of Europe. Projectionists would travel to small towns and market places, set up in tents or a local hall and show programmes of films ranging from educational, comic, and risqué, to famous circus or vaudeville acts. The practice screening films by roaming the countryside still exists today in places as far away as New Zealand, Ireland, India, Southeast Asia and on the continent of Africa.
The so-called ‘travelling cinema’ of the late-1800s to the mid-teens invites a lot of adjectives.
‘Quirky’ is one. ‘Innocent,’ ‘naïve,’ even ‘primitive’ pop up sometimes. These little films are the tentative first steps of filmmakers who could not have imagined the colours, sounds and dimensions of the multiplex universe we call ‘cinema’ today. They are the evidence not only of what these pioneers could do, but also of what they didn’t yet know. With hindsight, we’re tempted to focus on that. And perhaps, then, these films are underappreciated as the artwork some of them were. To be sure, many were not art, or at least very good art; but can we speak any differently of modern film?
The selections in this short program are intended to show you the breadth of turn-of-the-century imagination, artistry, and preoccupation. Some are cultured—or presume to be. Some are crude, also presuming to be. You will see a fascination with the human body played out in many of these films—its limits tested, its parts observed, ogled, mocked; destroyed, dismantled and reassembled. You will see experiments with colour and camerawork that leave a lasting impression; the issue of what ‘looks real’ is made irrelevant by the colossal beauty of the images given. Though what we witness may be crude, even phoney, it is true in being truly wonderful to watch.

The TSFF was proud to present with the Toronto Urban Film Festival (TUFF) a short selection of their award winning silent one minute films from 2010 to finsih off our screening.

1920 60min approx.
Director: King Vidor
Fred Turner, Harry Todd, Bobby Kelso, Charles Arling* (Cdn)
Musical interpretation by William O'Meara

Before the Big Parade, before The Crowd, Vidor honed his craft through little seen gems like this.
An old folk artist, living isolated on his boat on the Mississippi, has his world turned upside down with an unexpected arrival. Vidor combines stark realism, expressionistic framing and his trademark dry humour to create an affecting, memorable film.

The Would Elope 1909;
Tender Hearts 1909;
What Daisy Said 1910

The great Mary Pickford is mostly remembered today as the “girl with the golden curls” who often played children’s roles. But Pickford was much more than that. One of the founders of Hollywood, and one of its' most powerful figures, she made more than just films, she made history. Here we have a selection of the Toronto born actor’s short films showing her wide range of acting talents.

Mary Pickford Tribute programmed by Rob Brooks

1927 98min
Director: Alan Crosland
John Barrymore, Conrad Veidt, Marceline Day, Victor Henry
Musical interpretation by Laura Silberberg

Barrymore is resplendent as Francois Villon; poet, pickpocket, patriot, loving France earnestly, Frenchwomen excessively, French wine exclusively in this visually stunning romp through 15th Century Paris. Germany’s Conrad Veidt makes his scene stealing US debut as Louis X1.

Roach Clips -The comedy of the Hal Roach Studio

Musical interpretation by Andrei Streliaev

While Canadian-born Mack Sennett may have been silent film’s “King of Comedy” (hey, it’s the name of his autobiography, and I’m not about to argue with a fellow countryman), it’s comedy producer Hal Roach whose work has stood the test of time.

To quote Oliver Hardy (via title card) from Laurel & Hardy’s classic ‘Big Business’: “- It’s personality that wins – ”

The Hal Roach Studios’ most famous creations, Laurel & Hardy and The Little Rascals (originally Hal Roach’s Rascals or ‘Our Gang’), possess such engaging personalities that they’ve continued to win new audiences for 80+ years. Stan and Ollie may wear derbies and drive Model Ts, and the Rascals may frolic in pre-Depression era barnyards, but the humour in these films – and all of the Roach product – is truly timeless (and yes, I’m classifying a two-year old wielding a hatchet as “timeless”).

The comedies of Hal Roach concerned themselves with life’s minutiae: buying an ice cream cone, being fitted for a pair of pants, trying to impress prospective in-laws, or the embarrassing conundrum of finding a naked woman in the back seat of your car on your wedding day (something that could happen to the best of us). In the hands of such Roach stalwarts as Charley Chase, Max Davidson, Edgar Kennedy and Anita Garvin, the simplest situation could easily stretch into 20 minutes of pure hilarity. Unlike Sennett’s wham-bam-slam approach, Roach got maximum comic mileage out of the most mild-mannered mayhem.

The Hal Roach Studio would prosper from 1915 until the early 1940s when, attempting to make the leap from comedy factory to major Hollywood player, Roach would lose his sense of humour – and almost his shirt. With the emergence of TV in the 1950s, Roach came back in a big way, producing new sitcoms and re-introducing his classic films to baby boomers, their children, and their children’s children. Ultimately, Hal Roach lived to be 100 – a larger-than-life personality himself, and a testament to a lifetime of laughter. This afternoon’s programme presents five classics from the Hal Roach studio at its late-1920s peak.

Programmed by Chris Seguin

1924 60min
Director: Fred C Newmayer, Sam Taylor
Harold Lloyd, Jobyna Ralston, Josephine Crowell
Musical interpretation by Andrei Streliaev

It’s “one of those days” for our hero. Harold strives to solve the mysteries of public transit with a live turkey; deal with backseat driving from his Mother-in-Law and then finishes with a dinnertime incident that goes from bad to hell-arious.

1926 105min
Director: Eddie Sutherland
W C Fields, Louise Brooks, Blanche Ring
Musical interpretation by Andrei Streliaev

Elmer Prettywillie suffers the endless abuse of petty customers, overbearing relatives, obnoxious children, and offensive objects in his quest for peace and quiet. It’s enough to drive a man to drink. Louise Brooks co-stars as the ‘counter attraction’ in this, “The Epic of the American Druggist.”

FAUST 1926 (Germany)
Dir. F. W. Murnau
Emil Jannings, Camilla Horn, Gosta Ekman, Frida Richard, William Dieterle
A co-presentation with Robert Bruce

This visual masterpiece of light and shadow, created by the master of German expressionism, paces the powerful performances of the stars with stunning photography. Murnau transforms the familiar story into a sweepingly dark visual poem, seducing the audience amid its tale of good vs. evil.
Musical interpretation by ROBERT BRUCE - Hamilton

The 2010 line up...
Seven Chances
1925 USA
Director: Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton, Snitz Edwards, T. Roy Barnes
56 min
b/w with 2-strip Technicolor sequence
A co-presentation with Toronto Theatre Organ Society
Musical Interpretation: Clark Wilson on the Wurlitzer Theatre Organ

Buster thinks his luck has turned a corner when he's left $7 million in a will. The hitch-he must marry by 7pm on his 27th birthday and guess which day it is. So after completely offending his girlfriend, he sets out to find a willing bride only to strike out all 7 times. His friends do him a favour and place an advert for a bride willing to marry for money. The first 45 minutes is a great comedy film, the last 15 sends it into the stratosphere of insanity with the greatest chase scene in film history.

Preceded by Big Business with Laurel & Hardy

The Black Pirate 1926
Director: Albert Parker
Starring: Douglas Fairbanks, Billie Dove
2-Strip Technicolor
Musical Interpretation: Laura Silberberg
Film introduced by Taylor Whitney, Archivist, Preservation Specialist of "Preserving the Past", Rochester NY

"One of the silent era's most spectacular blockbusters.
Fairbanks's astonishing acrobatics remain as dazzling and as fresh today."
The world's greatest swashbuckler, Douglas Fairbanks, takes to the sea with cutlass in hand for the first great pirate movie and a gorgeous example of early Technicolor.

A THOUSAND LAUGHS - The Forgotten Clowns of Silent Comedy
Films introduced by programmer Chris Seguin, writer
Six Short Comedies featuring;

Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle started out as one of Mack Sennett's Keystone Kops, and quickly became Charlie Chaplin's one serious rival. Nobody combined subtle charm with rowdy slapstick so artfully, and the innocent joy of 1919's Love demonstrates precisely why he was so popular. Arbuckle's career would be destroyed (unfairly) by scandal a few years later, but he would enjoy a comeback after a decade's banishment from movie screens, just before his premature death at age 46 in 1933.

Lloyd Hamilton was, according to Charlie Chaplin, "the one actor of whom I am jealous." His prissy, disapproving demeanour elevates the any-cliché-for-a-laugh approach of Breezing Along, where banana peels, exploding cigars and bum-pinching crabs are all par for the course. Consider yourself lucky that Breezing Along is still around to enjoy today - while Hamilton made more than 250 films in 20-year comedy career, most were destroyed in a studio fire in the 1930s.

Charley Chase's sophisticated slapsticks of the 1920s seemed determined to prove one thing: folks back then sure liked sex. Men were wolfs, women were Hottentots, and Charley was generally caught in the middle. The split-second two-timing of Too Many Mammas was directed by Leo McCarey (The Bells of St. Mary, Duck Soup) while Charley's starring series for Hal Roach Studios would last well into the 'talkie' era.

Snub Pollard started his film career as comedy sidekick to Harold Lloyd; when Lloyd moved on to bigger and better things, Pollard got his own starring series. His personality didn't extend far beyond his hangdog moustache, but Snub could deliver a gag like nobody's business - Looking For Trouble is the proof in the pudding. And we can guarantee you've seen this forgotten clown before - he's the rain-soaked gent to whom Gene Kelly hands his umbrella at the end of Kelly's classic Singin' in the Rain number.

If Stan Laurel is remembered today, it's as the wispy half of the comedy team of Laurel & Hardy. But the whimpering, slow-witted sidekick of pompous Oliver Hardy is nowhere to be seen in his solo work, where he's usually a jackrabbit go-getter with more energy than brains. The Pest is a perfect example of Laurel's fast & furious pre-Hardy style, and a great argument for having a giant catskin rug in the house at all times.

Goon-faced Larry Semon (a kind of a silent comedy precursor to Big Bird) had a simple philosophy: bigger is better. His films had the biggest pratfalls, the fattest fat men, and gooiest giant jars of jams and the most frantic finales. The Show doesn't miss a trick, and includes the kind of budget-busting climax that made Semon a serious rival to Chaplin in the 1920s. (PC Warning: Black people will get white flour on their faces, white people will get black coal dust on their faces.)

Man with a Movie Camera Soviet Union 1929
Director: Dziga Vertov
Musical Interpretation: Richard Underhill and Astrogroove

This exhilarating experimentation of filming and editing knocks the audience for a loop with its playful and provocative style. Its expression of ideas without words turns it from a documentary of the day of the life of a Soviet city to an escalating feast for the eyes. Climb into the time machine and try to figure out who is watching whom.

Spotlight on Germany Double Feature
Films introduced by Angelica Fenner, Associate Professor of German & Cinema Studies, U of T

Adventures of Prince Achmed Germany 1926
Director: Lotte Reiniger
Musical Interpretation: William O'Meara

The film print of Adventures Of Prince Achmed was made possible through the generous support of Liz Bartliff of the Sutton Group-Security Real Estate

German artist Lotte Reiniger took years to complete The Adventures of Prince Achmed, now the world's oldest surviving animated feature. This is your chance to see her take on the Arabian Nights, in a fully restored print with vibrant tinting. Each of Reiniger's all-black, jointed silhouettes moves fluidly against backgrounds recalling the ornate architectures of Ancient China and Persia. Beautiful or grotesque, locked in combat or touching their hands and lips to one another, her figures remain elegant, erotic and utterly human.

followed by...

Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt
Berlin, Symphony of a Great City Germany 1927
62 min
Director: Walter Ruttmann
Musical Interpretation: William O'Meara

The essence of the city and the intimacies of its people are captured in this fluid cinematic tone poem. The filmic composition creates a romanticized, abstract view. From the arrival in pre-dawn of a locomotive to the gritty realities and unsettling scenes that follow throughout the day and into the night, Berlin and it's people never gives up on it's sheer joy of life.

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