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2015 Festival Films
Thursday April 9, 2015

Diary of a Lost Girl 1929
Director: G. W. Pabst
Louise Brooks, André Roanne, Fritz Rasp
A luminous Louise Brooks presents a striking performance as Thymian; a young innocent woman betrayed by society’s hypocrisy, her family and the men and women she encounters. Rejected after giving birth to an illegitimate child, she is sent to a sadistic reform school under the perverted eye of the headmistress, eventually escaping to find a safer refuge in a high class brothel.  Like Pandora’s Box, the director and star’s previous collaboration together, this film was viscously attacked in the press and by censors. Diary of a Lost Girl was never released in North America.
Louise Brooks Society:
Celebrating the 100 th Anniversary of Technicolor Pt 1

Guest Accompanist: Bill O’Meara

Friday April 10, 2015

The Mary Pickford   Foundation Presents:
Mistress Nell 1915
Director: James Kirkwood
Mary Pickford, Owen Moore, Arthur Hoops, Ruby Hoffman
The Mary Pickford Foundation in partnership with the Toronto Silent Film Festival is proud to present the 100 th anniversary screening of this rare Pickford historical adventure.  Mary plays a cheeky, flirty Nell Gwyn, the famous thespian and mistress to King Charles II, in this period costume romp dripping with political intrigue and false identities.  
Mary Pickford Foundation:  
Preview ;

Plus: Rare Toronto newsreel footage of Mary Pickford and husband Douglas Fairbanks trip to Toronto March 23, 1924
Celebrating the 100 th Anniversary of Technicolor Pt 2
Sincere thanks to: The Mary Pickford Foundation & MoMA for the film Mistress Nell & newsreel footage
Guest Accompanist: Jordan Klapman

Saturday April 11, 2015

From New York City, noted film historian, silent film composer and accompanist Ben Model, will lead the audience on a journey in:
Undercranking: The Magic Behind the Slapstick
"Silent films aren't just silent…they're a little faster, and they're SUPPOSED to be that way. In this hour long original, fascinating and revealing  lecture/presentation, silent film historian Ben Model explains how and why comedians like Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd and others utilized the speed-up of silent film  through "undercranking" to create gags and character business that could only exist in that universe." –Ben Model
Many comedians creatively used the early film technique of hand-cranking while filming and projecting to manipulate the frames per second (fps) to speed action up or slow it down. By controlling time they would create illusions of certain movements through "sleight of eye"; a technique that was lost in the sound era when a fixed rate film speed of 24fps was imposed.
Safety Last! 1923
Directors: Fred C Newmeyer & Sam Taylor
Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, Bill Strother, Noah Young
70 min
No one epitomized the get up and go attitude of the Roaring Twenties more than Harold Lloyd. Looking like the boy next door, his series of highly inventive and successful comedies often fused thrills with laughter. Safety Last! contains the image of what he has become best known for: the man hanging from a clock high above a busy street.
Harold plays a small town boy who goes to the big city in order to make good so he can marry his sweetheart. He finds the city hard to crack and ends up embellishing his success in his letters back home. He dreams up a publicity stunt to draw crowds to the store he works for and win some big money but things start to rapidly unravel when he is forced to perform the stunt of climbing up the side of a building. Every floor up presents new challenges to overcome; every floor up escalating the gasp inducing thrills for audiences until finally he arrives at the big clock. Will Harold complete his mission and win the love of his girl or has he run out of time!
Print courtesy of The Harold Lloyd Foundation
Guest Accompanist: Ben Model

Sunday April 12, 2015

1000 Laffs: Risk & Risqué
Fan favourites and rarities are back to deliver more thrills and more hilarity.  We’re keeping the titles hush-hush but it’s no secret that you’ll be laughing in the aisles. Be the first to re-discover Marcel Perez!
Guest Accompanist: Ben Model

Monday April 13, 2015

The Toronto Theatre Organ Society presents:
The Penalty 1920
Director: Wallace Worsley
Lon Chaney, Doris Pawn, Jim Mason
Lon Chaney’s prime talent lay in channelling his powerful character studies through his inventive, sometimes horrific make-up techniques and physical dexterity. In The Penalty he portrays Blizzard, a Barbary Coast crime boss plotting to take over the city and exact revenge for the unnecessary loss of his legs as a child. Chaney designed the apparatus of straps and stumps to secure his lower legs behind his thighs in order to create the illusion of having no lower legs. Though Blizzard is cruel and ruthless, Chaney manages to create a compelling complex man caught in the twisted maelstrom of his own making.
Celebrating the 100 th Anniversary Technicolor Pt 4
World Premiere Score: Clark Wilson on the Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ

Tuesday April 14, 2015

Blind Husbands 1919
Director: Eric Von Stroheim
Eric von Stroheim, Francelia Billington, Gibson Gowland
Few directors have such a mystique surrounding them as Eric von Stroheim. Although never giving up acting, his debut as a director with this film allowed him to join the ranks of those who would define film as an artistic pursuit. Stroheim concentrated on the ragged underside of the human relationship with his deeply flawed characters pursuing life through a world of moral depravity.  This film was so successful commercially and critically that it shot von Stroheim to into the spotlight and with it the fascinating body of work which followed.
Rich in detail with a decidedly European "feel" to the film, von Stroheim plays an Austrian officer who meets a vacationing American doctor and his neglected wife in the Austrian Alps. Although loving her husband, the wife’s resolve slowly crumbles under the predator’s constant sexual attentions. Not content with just a story of right and wrong, Stroheim deliberately created the layering of moral ambiguity we have come to expect in his later work.
Plus: The Best of TUFF 2014 Five award winning one-minute silent shorts from the Toronto Urban Film Festival, up on the big screen with live original scores.
Celebrating the 100 th Anniversary of Technicolor Pt 5
Guest accompanist: LAURA SILBERBERG

Hitchcock 9 - Canadian Premier of the BFI Restorations
November 1  7pm

Blackmail 1929 75min
Anny Ondra, John Longden, Cyril Ritchard
Hitchcock’s final silent film is one of the best British films, if not the best, of the late 1920s. Made during the transition period to the sound era, it was commissioned as both a silent and as a part –talkie with recorded music and some dialogue scenes. Czech film actress Anny Ondra stars as Alice White, a young woman whose brief flirtation with an artist turns suddenly and terribly sour…Hitchcock’s masterly thriller boasts incredible London locations including the thrilling finale at the British Museum.

Restoration notes: A combination of wet and dry scanning has maximised image resolution while minimising the appearance of surface damage.
Restoration Credits: BFI National Archive in association with STUDIOCANAL. Principal restoration funding provided by The Hollywood Foreign Press Assoc. and The Film Foundation. Additional funding provided by Deluxe 142, Pia Getty, Col & Karen Needham, and the Dr. Mortimer & Theresa Sackler Foundation.

Live accompaniment: Laura Silberberg

November 2  2pm
The Pleasure Garden 1926 90min
Virginia Valli. Miles Mander, Carlotta Geraghty. John Stuart

Hitchcock’s first film as director demonstrates many of his obsessions from the first frame onwards—a cascade of chorus girls’ legs tripping down a spiral staircase. A melodrama complete with apparitions, exotic locations and a sojourn in Italy, this is also the first of Hitchcock’s many films about a woman marrying—to perilous effect—a man she doesn’t really know.

Using five different sources, the BFI has been able to replace missing scenes thus improving the flow and meaning of the narrative as well as reapplying the original tinting scheme.
Restoration Credits: A restoration by the BFI National Archives in association with ITV Studios Global Entertainment and Park Circus Films. Principal restoration funded by The Hollywood Foreign Press Association and The Film Foundation, and Matt Spick. Additional funding provided by Deluxe 142

Live accompaniment: Laura Silberberg

November 2 4:15

Downhill 1927 105min
Ivor Novello, Isabel Jeans, Ian Hunter, Robin Irvine

The darkest of Hitchcock’s early films, Downhill follows the fall from grace of a public schoolboy who is expelled for getting a girl pregnant and subsequently disowned by his father. An early example not only of Hitchcock’s interest in guilt and its transference, but of his highly ambivalent attitude to family life, this is a deceptively rich and often elegant work.
The film material held at the BFI National Archive had only previously been available in black and white. The BFI restored the tints and tone and greatly improved the image quality, with access to a nitrate print held at the EYE Film Institute.
Restoration Credits: A restoration by the BFI National Archives in association with ITV Studios Global Entertainment and Park Circus Films. Principal restoration funding provided by Simon W Hessel.  Additional funding provided by Deluxe 142 & The Headley Trust.

This film will be screened with the recorded piano score by composer and musician John Sweeney that was commissioned for the restoration.

November 7 7pm

Champagne 1928 105min
Betty Balfour, Gordon Harker, Ferdinand von Alten
This romantic comedy-drama revolves around a millionaire’s decision to teach his frivolous flapper daughter a lesson by feigning bankruptcy. Built around the star power of Betty Balfour’s effervescent energy, this early example of Hitchcock’s long-term fascination with the foibles of the filthy rich features some great experimental touches, including an opening shot filmed through a raised champagne glass.

There was only one source for this film, an original negative from which all surviving prints have been made. Some improvements have been made to continuity, dissolves have been re-made and full image repair and grading has been completed.
Restoration Credits: BFI National Archive in association with STUDIOCANAL. Principal restoration funding provided by The Eric Anker-Peterson Charity. Additional funding provided by Deluxe 142

Live accompaniment: Bill O'Meara

November 8 1:30pm

The Farmer’s Wife 1928  107min
Jameson Thomas, Lillian Hall-Davis, Gordon Harker
A charming, deftly-handled comedy about a middle-aged widowed landowner who decides to marry again. With the aid of his faithful housekeeper he draws up a list of all the eligible women in the neighbourhood and sets off to woo each in turn—with disastrous results.
"Often very funny, the film is directed with great subtlety, particularly in the two virtuoso party scenes, Hitchcock’s use of long takes and his meticulous choreography of a large group of actors work wonders." Geoff Andrew

After an international search, the earliest available sources for the film have been established as two preservation intermediates made from the camera negative in the 1960s. After careful consideration, the best sections have been scanned from both to form the basis of the restoration.
Restoration Credits: BFI National Archive in association with STUDIOCANAL. Restoration funding provided by Matt Spick, additional funding provided by Deluxe 142.

Live accompaniment: Bill O'Meara

November 8 4:15pm

The Ring 1927 108min
Carl Brisson, Lillian Hall-Davis, Ian Hunter, Gordon Harker
A love triangle drama set in the world of boxing; this was Hitchcock’s one and only original screenplay and one of his finest silent films. When boxer Bob Corby hires Jack Sander to be his sparring partner, he has no idea that he will become smitten with Mabel, Jack’s beautiful wife. The conflict between the two men gives rise to the inventive series of expressionist flourishes evoking the character’s states of mind. Exhilaratingly bold, filmmaking.

The restoration process has worked hard to minimise the effects of film shrinkage through a combination of careful grading and much manual restoration work. New titles cards were remade using a new hand-crafted font.
Restoration Credits: BFI National Archive in association with STUDIOCANAL. Principal restoration funding provided by The Hollywood Foreign Press Association and The Film Foundation. Additional funding provided by Deluxe 142 & The Mohamed S Farsi Foundation.

This film will be screened using the recorded score by composer and musician Soweto Kinch that was commissioned for this restoration.
British jazz star Kinchs score is a huge audience-pleaser—a contemporary response that draws on the original 1920s Jazz Age roots of the film but brings it resolutely up to date. "The irrepressible score brought out the quirky humour of the piece, the fun of the fairground setting, the drunken abandon of the party scenes, and the mounting tension and excitement of the genuinely enthralling fight scenes. Beautifully acted and shot through with Hitchcock’s humanity and wicked sense of the bizarre, it was an absolute treat." – July 2012

November 15  2pm

Easy Virtue 1927 70min
Isabel Jeans, Franklyn Dyall, Ian Hunter, Robin Irvine
"As adapted by Eliot Stannard, who scripted most of Hitchcock’s silent films, Noel Coward’s play becomes a study of the corrosive effects of being judged guilty by society, even if—as in the case of Laurita Filton, charged with infidelity by her drunkard husband—one is really innocent. Hitchcock’s handling of flashbacks shows impressive narrative flair, as does his frequently imaginative play with point of view" - Geoff Andrew

The most problematic of all the Hitchcock restorations, Easy Virtue has only survived in a poor quality, abridged 16mm print. The BFI has selected the best source and inserted several shots from a second sosurces where appropriate in order to improve quality.
Restoration Credits: A restoration by the BFI National Archives in association with ITV Studios Global Entertainment and Park Circus Films. Restoration funding provided by The American Friends of the BFI, The John S Cohen Foundation, Deluxe 142, The Idlewild Trust & numerous film societies across the UK.

Live accompaniment: Jordan Klapman

November 15  4:15pm

The Manxman 1929 100 min
Carl Brisson, Malcolm Keen, Anny Ondra
"Set in a remote Isle of Man fishing community (but shot in Cornwall), Hitchcock’s penultimate silent feature is one of the best and most mature works of his early career. The story follows two boyhood friends who take markedly different paths in adulthood: one becomes a fisherman, the other a lawyer, but both fall in love with the same woman—a complex, sensual performance from Anny Ondra, part  vulnerable waif, part flirtatious femme fatale—and clearly the reason Hitch cast her in his suspense masterpiece Blackmail later that year."-Bryony Dixon, BFI Silent Film Curator

Careful attention has been paid to the film’s delicate photography so that it can be reproduced on new film prints, in digital cinema presentations and HD. Three source elements were used to reconstruct the film-the original camera negative, an acetate fine grain positive and a nitrate print from the 1920s. Balancing these sources without disrupting the flow of the film has been a major concern in restoration.
Restoration Credits: BFI National Archive in association with STUDIOCANAL. Restoration funding provided by Daniel & Joanna Friel and Ronald T Shedlo, additional funding provided by Deluxe 142.

Live accompaniment: Fern Lindzon

November 16  1:30pm

The Lodger 1926 90min
Ivor Novello, June, Marie Ault, Malcolm Keen

Described by Hitchcock himself as "the first true Hitchcock movie", this masterly silent thriller is set in a fog-bound London terrorised by a Jack the Ripper-style murderer known only as The Avenger. His victims, all blonde young women, are discovered each Tuesday night. This is one of the great British silent films, starring matinée idol Ivor Novello as the mysterious lodger in a London house who appears to be acting rather strangely.

Several hundred hours were spent on the removal and repair of dirt and damage. The original tinting and toning were reproduced via digital image systems and particular attention was paid to the night-time sequences set in thick fog which are toned blue and tinted amber.
Restoration Credits: A restoration by the BFI National Archive in association with ITV Studios Global Entertainment, Network Releasing and Park Circus Films. Principal restoration funding provided by The Hollywood Foreign Press Assoc. and The Film Foundation, and Simon W Hessel. Additional funding provided by British Board of Film Classificiation, Deluxe 142, Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, and Ian & Beth Mill.

2014 Festival Films
Thursday April 3rd Opening Night

The Wind USA 1928 95min
Directed by Victor Sjostrom
Lillian Gish, Lars Hanson, Montegu Love
The Wind is one of few films that can demonstrate the full power of what the silent screen is capable of achieving as an art form. Sjostrom manages to visually and emotionally capture the stifling effects of swirling wind torn landscapes encasing and driving the characters and the audiences with increasing dread toward inevitable madness.  One of the all-time cinematic classics, this is a film of terrible beauty, leaving the viewer haunted by images long after the images fade from the screen.
Swedish born director Victor Sjostrom, like many of his European contemporaries, left his homeland after the war to move to Hollywood. There he made several noted films including He Who Gets Slapped with Lon Chaney, another Lillian Gish film, The Scarlett Letter, and The Divine Woman with Garbo.  He was one of the first "art" directors whose work convinced critics, that cinema was capable of being a fully-fledged art form.
Synopsis: Beautiful Letty leaves her home in Virginia and travels to the hard windswept plains of West Texas to live with her cousin and his family. There, the wind blows incessantly, driving dust and sand into every corner, distorting the world into a foreboding landscape of ghosts. She is told upon arrival that the wind will drive her mad and we have no reason to doubt that prediction. Letty is greeted warmly by her cousin but with undisguised hostility by his wife. Viewed as a threat, she is eventually forced to leave the homestead and into an unwanted marriage with a local man, Lige. It is then that the unrelenting force of the wind drives Letty and everyone around her to the edge of madness.
A special thanks to Lou Sabini of Stamford Connecticut for the 16mm print of this film.

Guest Musical Accompanist: Bill O’Meara
Co-Presented by Rendevous With Madness Film Festival

The Best of TUFF 2013 (Toronto Urban Film Festival)
Five award winning one-minute silent films on the big screen for the first time and accompanied by improvised scores.
Co-Presented by TUFF

Silent Toronto Photoplays Part 1
Co-presented by Heritage Toronto
Come along with us as we explore Toronto through silent film. Three fascinating photoplay vignettes of archival film footage; taken during cinema’s silent era, show Toronto on the brink of becoming the modern city we know today. These vignettes take us from the playgrounds of the Islands to the thrill of the Woodbine racetrack, from the busy city streets to the TTC traffic puzzles. Witness a city bursting with promise and character, through the exuberant enthusiasm of soldiers training during The Great War, to the morals of the Prohibition Parade and a Censorship Board film burning. Silent Toronto Photoplays will shed light on a forgotten era in the city’s history.

Live narration by renowned author and Toronto historian Mike Filey

Friday April 4, 2014 7:30pm

City Girl USA 1930 90min.
Directed by F. W. Murnau
Charles Farrell, Mary Duncan
The lesser known "sister film" to Murnau’s masterpiece Sunrise, City Girl sets out to realign the mythology of the urban/rural divide so prevalent in the earlier work. Whereas Sunrise typified the mythos of the rift: the city, full of temptations, self-interest, and corruption; the countryside a place of moral foundations and honest living, City Girl readjusts that idealism into a more complex and lifelike portrait of America.
More importantly, it is a film about escape and liberation from the oppression, ignominy and dreams of ordinary lives.
Murnau infuses his scenes with all of the breathtaking beauty of light, movement and framing that you come to expect of his films. Terrance Malick channelled many of the influences of this film into his Days of Heaven 1978. For Murnau, City Girl became his last studio film (Tabu, his last, was an independent production). The silent version of this film was thought lost for decades.
Synopsis: A young man from the country travels to the city to sell the family farm’s wheat. There, he meets and falls in love with a diner waitress. The girl, longing to escape the city and to follow her dreams, marries him and returns with him to the farm. There she is met with extreme antagonism from her father-in-law and faces the disillusionment about her new life.
Silent Toronto Photoplays Part 2
Co-presented by Heritage Toronto
More film scenes from Toronto close to 100 years ago. Highlights include: The Great Toronto Fire, home movies, High Park outings.

Guest Musical Accompanist: Fern Lindzon

Saturday April 5 2pm

The Circus 1928 71min
Directed by Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin, Merna Kennedy, Harry Crocker
Celebrating the Chaplin Film Centenary 1914-2014
After two and half years of filmmaking and delays, The Circus was finally released during the turbulent transitional period between silent and talkies. It garnered rave reviews and special Academy Award for Chaplin but since then, it has been overshadowed by his earlier masterpiece The Gold Rush and his later City Lights. Nonetheless this film undoubtedly shows Chaplin at his peak of his fame and comedic powers and should be counted as one of his funniest films. There are virtuoso displays of sight gags throughout that showcase Chaplin’s uncanny instinct for the camera and his ability to produce laughs. Chaplin’s performance on the tightrope during a climactic scene (no CGI here) took over a month to film and consisted of over more than 700 takes. Join us for a fun and thrill filled afternoon with the man who declared "a day without laughter is a day wasted".
Synopsis: Accused of theft, The Tramp is chased by the police into the circus’ Big Top and unintentionally becomes the show's biggest comedy hit. He takes one look at the beautiful equestrian rider, the step-daughter of the ringmaster, and falls madly in love. Wanting to stay close and protect her from her stepfather’s rough treatment, he tries out as a comedy act but discovers he’s terrible when he works at being funny. He’s kept on as a lowly prop man and is constantly tricked into inadvertently appearing in comedy acts where he gets all the laughs. Eventually he discovers his stardom and demands his due reward. Everything is coming up roses for Charlie until a handsome new tightrope walker joins the show and the girl falls in love with him. Heartbroken, Charlie finds that he can't make the audience laugh anymore.
Note: The original recording of the orchestral score composed and conducted by Charles Chaplin will be used for the soundtrack.
Charlie Chaplin official website  
Charlie’s London

The Music Lovers 2013 7m 09s
Directed by Matteo Bernardini
The projection of a silent film takes a wrong turn when the accompanying piano player starts a furious competition with a Romani fiddler. This leads to a musical extravaganza at the expenses of the actors on the screen.  Print courtesy of The Open Reel, Rome, Italy

Silent Toronto Photoplays Part 3  Co-presented by Heritage Toronto
Closing out our time capsule look at Toronto we will be seeing training footage for The Great War, the King’s Plate from the original Woodbine Racetrack and scenes from  crowded downtown streets.
Live narration by Heritage Toronto’s Chief Historian Dr. Gary Miedema

Sunday April 6 4pm
Fox Theatre, 2236 Queen St. E
Tickets: $15 (buy tickets)

1000 Laffs: It Started with Charlie 104min
Charlie Chaplin’s career as a screen performer has stood the test of time. Once the most recognized human on the planet, Chaplin’s film legacy is still firmly in place. His earlier works have been restored and screened again to audiences worldwide. As part of the 100 th anniversary of his arrival in film, we salute his work and the work of his contemporaries and friends. Join Charlie Chaplin, his Karno understudy Stan Laurel (and Oliver Hardy of course), early comedy superstar Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, Harry Langdon and Charley Chase for a "roll-in-the-aisles" afternoon of merriment and insanely funny predicaments.

Guest Musical Accompanist: Laura Silberberg

Monday April 7 8pm
Casa Loma, 1 Austin Terrace

Toronto Theatre Organ Society presents:
Seven Years Bad Luck 1921 62min
Directed by Max Linder
Max Linder, Alta Allen, Ralph McCollough
The French comedy master that Chaplin called "His Professor" is nowadays only known to a few silent comedy fans. At the height of his popularity before the war, Linder  was revered in his native France, lauded internationally as a comedic icon and made hundreds of films. His sophisticated style was years ahead of its time and became a major influence to well-known comedians Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd and others into the sound era.
As David Cook explains in A History of Narrative Film, Max "became world famous for his subtle impersonation of an elegant but disaster-prone man-about-town in prewar Paris." Despite his monumental popularity on both sides of the Atlantic, today Linder is relatively unknown".
Synposis: Max returns from his last bachelor party a little worse for wear. Groggy and confused, he wakes up the next morning to more than just a hangover. His maid and butler have broken his mirror and in trying to hide the deed, have convinced Max that he’s responsible. Certain that he is cursed with seven years bad luck, everything starts to go wrong: his fiancée decides to break off their engagement. Thinking that a change of scene may improve his fortunes, Max decides go on a train journey.  Unfortunately, on the way to the station he loses his wallet in a fracas with a pair of muggers.  Undeterred, he finds a way to get onto the train without a ticket, only to be pursued by a hoard of over-zealous railway staff.  Meanwhile, Max’s fiancée is being courted by his mischievous rival...

Guest Musical Accompanist: Clark Wilson
The Nitrate Diva

Tuesday April 8 7pm
Revue Cinema, 400 Roncesvalles Ave.
Silent Sundays at the Revue presents:
The Last Command 1928 USA 88min
Dir. Josef von Sternberg
Emil Jannings, Evelyn Brent, William Powell
The Last Command is richly woven film tapestry centered on the emotional disintegration of an exiled Tsarist General reduced to playing bit parts in the Hollywood film-making machine. German actor Emil Jannings (Last Laugh, Faust, Varieté ) won the first ever Academy Award for Best Actor for this film and the now lost Way of All Flesh.
Synopsis: A former Russian Imperial General flees his revolutionary ravaged country only to wind up a decade later in Hollywood as a lowly extra begging for work. His former revolutionary foe, now a film director, hires him to play a role in a film about the Russian Revolution. The General’s tenuous grasp of reality is broken and his emotional stability collapses in the face of the weight of his own personal history in that conflict.

Behind the Screen 1916
Charlie Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Eric Campbell
An overworked scene shifter dealing with three films simultaneously at a film studio tries to help a fellow get a job. But the fellow is not what he seems! It all ends with a workers strike and a pie throwing finale.

Guest Musical Accompanist: Jordan Klapman

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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