Denver Silent Film Festival
Due to the coronavirus outbreak and public health recommendations, the Denver Silent Film Festival will be postponed
Online Screenings with Sie FilmCenter
For this first joint online film presentation between the Sie FilmCenter and The Denver Silent Film Festival, we’ve chosen three films that give some sense of the remarkable breadth (and depth) of what silent film accomplished. Oscar Micheaux is the first major African-American filmmaker, whose work MUST be seen and known. The Epic of Everest shows the extraordinary spirit of adventure that came to filmmaking very early in film history. And the soaring, delightful, brilliant comic work of Buster Keaton makes a difficult world easier to take.
WITHIN OUR GATES
Evelyn Preer, Flo Clements
So far as we know, Within Our Gates is the earliest surviving feature film by an African-American filmmaker. Director Oscar Micheaux was an artist of great power, persistence and nerve to make films independently and, of course, outside the well-funded White film industry. This is Micheaux’ second film – the 1918 The Homesteader about his own life homesteading in South Dakota is lost. But right from the start, Micheaux presents a vision foreign to White audiences – that Black is the norm, not the exception. He looks at life as lived by Black people and takes on the profound questions of his (and still our) time. In Within Our Gates, Sylvia Landry (the major star Evelyn Preer) raises money for a school for black children and along the way must confront a host of social attitudes from Whites and Blacks alike. In a moment of flashback to Landry’s childhood, Micheaux stages a graphic lynching of her parents – a direct challenge to the racism of D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation.
Introduction and Post-film discussion with Howie Movshovitz, Director of The Denver Silent Film Festival, and filmmaker Lisa Collins, currently making a film about Oscar Micheaux.
About guest Lisa Collins:
Award-winning Filmmaker/Writer/Director/Producer, Lisa Collins -- a spirited Brooklyn-native of Jamaican/Cuban parentage -- earned a BA from Yale (American Studies/Photography), followed by an MFA with honors from Columbia University (Screenwriting/Directing); in between, studied in Madrid, Spain. While in film school in NYC, Lisa served as Managing Editor of the digital Film Department at Baseline (a data provider). From there Lisa was promoted to: N.Y. Bureau Chief/Senior Editor/Segment Producer, serving as an online entertainment journalist and a content strategist for 10-plus years at Hollywood.com. Focusing, more recently, on art/fashion/cinema/culture, she freelances as a Special Correspondent/Writer (Visionaire, V, and various platforms). Lisa’s expanded professional ventures include: Nightclub Producer; Creative Consultant; Educator; Special Events Curator; Jurist/Panelist/Guest Speaker; Women Film Critics Circle Member; and Co-Founding Board Member/Volunteer/Director of Special Projects of the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation. Lisa was invited onboard as Festival Programmer for the 2018 Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival in Arkansas … In her own storytelling cinematic orbit -- Filmmaker Magazine named Lisa, “One of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film.” Lisa’s B&W, silent, thesis film Tree Shade won a Student Academy Award (Best Alternative Film); Best Short Film (Avignon, Atlanta); a DGA Award; and screened, worldwide, to enthusiastic audiences. Lisa is a Sundance Writers/Directors/Producers Lab Alumni for her narrative work. As Director/Producer, Lisa is currently in advanced post-production with her epic Oscar Micheaux-inspired feature documentary, Oscar’s Comeback, which has garnered generous grant, lab, and fellowship support from prestigious foundations/institutions including: Tribeca Film Institute; the Ford Foundation/JustFilms; NYSCA; Chicken & Egg Pictures; Sundance Institute; IFP; Vital Projects Fund; South Dakota Humanities Council; and Women Make Movies. With an essay on Oscar Micheaux’s work, Lisa is a contributing writer for MoMA’s 2019 anthology: Among Others: Blackness at MoMA… Currently, Lisa is excited to be serving on the Selection Committee for the New York Jewish Film Festival, presented by the Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
We’ve decided that we have to postpone the Denver Silent Film Festival. It’s both a hard choice and an obvious one. The health of every one of us comes first, and with all the expert advice to avoid crowds, we certainly do not want to endanger our audience or stage a festival which no one will be able attend. The hard part, of course, is that we’d put together a wonderful event, for a wonderful audience.
But we are already working with the staff of The Alamo Drafthouse to find new dates in the fall.
Please stay tuned and we will be in touch once we pick a new date.
Thank you for your continued support and understanding. We are all in this together.
The Denver Silent Film Festival
For Immediate Release
DENVER SILENT FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES 2020 LINE-UP
Festival to be held at Alamo Drafthouse Sloans Lake April 3 - 5
Denver, CO – (March 4, 2020) – The Denver Silent Film Festival (DSFF) returns to Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Sloans Lake (4255 W. Colfax Ave., Denver) for its ninth year in presenting the best of silent film Friday, April 3 - Sunday, April 5. The festival will feature ten programs, including the premiere of a new restoration of the wonderful Ernst Lubitsch comedy from 1926, So This Is Paris. The restoration is sponsored by Turner Classic Movies (TCM), whose head of programming, Charlie Tabesh, will receive the festival’s David Shepard Career Achievement Award. The film will be accompanied by famed silent film accompanist Ben Model, whose new score has also been commissioned by TCM. Tickets for all films are now on sale here.
“I’m again proud and excited by our lineup for the 9th DSFF. All the films are restorations – Mother and So This Is Paris are hot off the presses – and the musicians are, as usual, extraordinary, said festival director Howie Movshovitz. “The color sequence in Lonesome will knock your socks off. I could go on…” Added Alamo Drafthouse Denver creative manager Austin Terrell, “We are overjoyed to host the Denver Silent Film Festival again at our location. This festival always proves to be a fantastic opportunity for our guests to encounter films that they otherwise would not have seen. I’m sure this year will prove to be one of the best yet.”
Established in 2011, the Denver Silent Film Festival explores the broad spectrum of silent film by programming a thought-provoking mix of films from the great silent era of cinema. DSFF has joined an increasing number of worldwide celebrations of silent film to delight, entertain and, in the most elegant way, to educate its audience in this remarkable art form.
Ticket prices are $13 per film ($8 for students). Weekend festival passes are available for $110.
Friday, April 3
7:00 p.m. The Mark of Zorro (Fred Niblo, 1920, U.S., 107 minutes)
With Douglas Fairbanks
Accompanied by The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
Zorro is something of an early Batman – of course, without either a Batmobile or a Gotham City – but he does have a horse and a sword, and he does fight evil and corruption among the wealthy in Spanish-controlled California. And he also wears a mask to hide his own upper-class status. More than anything, though, Zorro has Denver-born Douglas Fairbanks, agile and magnetic, and that makes him unique.
Saturday, April 4
10:00 a.m. Clash of the Wolves (Noel Mason Smith, 1925, 74 minutes)
Accompanied by The Doll House Thieves
In his ninth feature, French-born Rin-Tin-Tin plays a half-breed (half dog, half wolf) who leads a wolf pack that preys upon cattle after a forest fire has destroyed the wolves’ natural habitat. Then, his paw pierced by a thorn, Rinty is saved by a human being and his life is changed.
12:15 p.m. The Phantom Carriage (Victor Sjöström,1921, Sweden, 100 minutes)
With Victor Sjöström, Hilda Borgström and Tore Svennberg.
Accompanied by Hank Troy
According to a legend acknowledged by three drunken men, the last person to die in a year must for the next year drive the carriage that collects the dead. And in this stunning, touching and profound film, that man reflects on the life that brought him to this point. Victor Sjöström directed and stars, and the film so affected Ingmar Bergman that he used Sjöström in his own film about an aging man re-considering his life, Wild Strawberries.
4:00 p.m. Lonesome (Paul Fejos, 1928, 69 minutes
With Barbara Kent, Glenn Tryon, Fay Holderness.
Accompanied by the College of Arts & Media’s New Electronics Orchestra, with Donald Sosin, Gregory Walker, and Joanna Seaton.
It’s Saturday at Coney Island. A girl and a boy meet; they spark, and then, by a quirk of fate they’re separated. The story may be old, but Fejos avant-gardish filmmaking is not, and the sights of New York in 1928 are fascinating.
7:00 p.m. So This Is Paris (Ernst Lubitsch, 1926, U.S., 80 minutes)
With Monte Blue and Patsy Ruth Miller
Accompanied by Ben Model
In 1926, The New York Times film critic Mordaunt Hall wrote, “No matter how brilliant may be the picture Mr. Lubitsch produces, he succeeds invariably in inserting a transcendental stroke.” Enough said. Two couples, all cheating in Lubitsch’s magnificent view of sex and silliness. This screening is the premiere of Turner Classic Movies’ new restoration of the film – and of Ben Model’s new score.
Sunday, April 5
9:30 a.m. Student Shorts (60 minutes)
Each year, DSFF presents a program of new silent shorts made by film students of the College of Arts & Media of the University of Colorado Denver, under the guidance of Jessica McGaugh, Andrew Bateman and Jim Phelan. 60 minutes.
11:15 a.m. The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks/ Neobychainye priklyucheniya mistera Vesta v strane bolshevikov (Lev Kuleshov, 1924, USSR, 94 minutes)
With Porfiri Podobed and Boris Barnet
Accompanied by Hank Troy
Mr. West, a YMCA director in America, decides to civilize the presumed barbarians of the New Soviet Union. But because this this is a Soviet-made film, not American, director Lev Kuleshov decides to make fun of this American visitor. Kuleshov was a major figure in the Constructivist/Futurist movements in the USSR – and in fact is the one who “discovered” the “Kuleshov effect,” a fundamental principle of montage, or editing.
2:00 p.m. Mother/Mat (Vsevolod Pudovkin, 1926, 89 minutes, USSR)
With Vera Baranovskaya and Nikolay Batalov
Accompanied by Billy Overton
Pavel is a guy with a lousy industrial job and – in this film from the heyday of Soviet revolutionary filmmaking – he has no political consciousness. Slowly that develops in him until finally, at a crisis, his mother also realizes the importance of revolt. The climax arrives with the first hint of spring, just as the ice breaks in the river – a sequence much influenced by D.W. Griffith and his film Way Down East.
4:30 p.m. The Manxman (Alfred Hitchcock, 1929, Great Britain, 110 minutes)
With Anny Ondra, Carl Brisson and Malcolm Keen
Accompanied by Hank Troy
In this late silent film from Alfred Hitchcock, two young men who are friends take separate directions – one becomes a lawyer, the other a fisherman. Yet they manage to fall in love with the same young woman.Hitchcock told Truffaut that The Manxman was “not a Hitchcock movie,” but it is in fact a fine moral drama.
7:30 p.m. The Scarlet Letter (Victor Sjöström, 1926, U.S.115 minutes)
With Lillian Gish, Lars Hanson, and Henry B. Walthall
Accompanied by Donald Sosin (piano) and Joanna Seaton (vocals)
In the two films Lillian Gish made with Swedish director Victor Sjöström (the other is the1928 Wind), she showed what she could not with D.W. Griffith – her great ability to play mature, thoughtful women instead of Griffith’s infantilized virgins. Here, Gish plays the famed Hester Prynne, outcast and forced to wear that scarlet A for adultery in a fine adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s romance (he did not call it a novel).
Contact: Howie Movshovitz
Public Relations – CAM
Director of Marketing
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Denver
Tickets can be purchased at www.denversilentfilmfestival.org or www.drafthouse.com
ABOUT DENVER SILENT FILM FESTIVAL
In the era of silent film, filmmakers first invented a new art form and then created a startling range of beloved masterpieces. Those films form the basis of cinema in the present, as well as being great art and entertainment on their own. Understanding and appreciating silent film is crucial to knowing our own society and culture. The Denver Silent Film Festival is dedicated to celebrating this extraordinary body of film.
ABOUT ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE CINEMA
Founded in 1997, Alamo Drafthouse has been heralded for unique programming events, great food and drinks, and high exhibition standards, earning accolades including “Best Theater Ever” by Time Magazine and “The Coolest Theater in the World” by Wired. A September 2018 Market Force Information survey of nearly 13,000 moviegoers across the country gave Alamo Drafthouse the #1 ranking for Favorite Movie Theater, Best Service, and all food and beverage-related categories. Alamo Drafthouse provides a unique combination of theater and restaurant, showing first-run movies, independent films and special events with an extensive menu made from scratch. Guests order all food and drinks from servers who quietly attend to them throughout the movie from inside the theater.
SO THIS IS PARIS
The Denver Silent Film Festival is proud to announce the premiere of a new restoration of the wonderful Ernst Lubitsch comedy from 1926 SO THIS IS PARIS. The restoration is sponsored by Turner Classic Movies, whose head of programming Charlie Tabesh will receive the festival’s David Shepard Career Achievement Award. The film will be accompanied by the famed silent film accompanist Ben Model, whose new score has also been commissioned by TCM. The festival runs April 3-5, 2020 at The Alamo Draft House Sloans Lake on W. Colfax Ave. in Denver. SO THIS IS PARIS will play on the evening of April 4.
The 2020 David Shepard Career Achievement Award Recipient
Denver Silent Film Festival is delighted to announce that this year’s David Shepard Career Achievement Award will go to Charles Tabesh, senior vice president of programming and content strategy for Turner Classic Movies (TCM). Since 1997, Charlie has managed programming of a huge inventory of films, both silent and sound. He also led programming and curation at the wonderful, now defunct, FilmStruck. Under his guidance, TCM regularly presents silent films, many of them rare treats for even experienced silent film viewers. Charlie Tabesh is a great friend to silent film. He will attend the entire festival, April 3-5, 2020 at The Alamo Draft House Sloans Lake.
Available January 8, 2021
STEAMBOAT BILL JR.
Buster Keaton, a man of almost no education, became one of the great geniuses of the cinema. His films are stunning explorations of the nature of the art of film itself – and, of course they are wonderfully funny. While Charlie Chaplin looked at social situations through his Tramp, Keaton was interested in the fabric of the physical world. Are spaces full or are they empty? What can the camera lens NOT see? Will two objects moving towards the same point crash or will they miss? The world is a mystery to Keaton, whose character is at the mercy of all sorts of physical forces – until he figures them out.
In Steamboat Bill Jr, Buster plays a ridiculous dandy of a young Bostonian sent to the South to live with his gruff father (Ernest Torrence), captain of a broken down riverboat. Buster is a great disappointment to nearly everyone, until he manages to save most of the cast, run the steamboat, get his father out of jail (hilarious) and survive a tremendous rain and wind storm in one of the funniest and most jaw-dropping brilliant sequences in the history of the movies.
Post-film discussion with Howie Movshovitz.
Charles Reisner, Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton, Tom McGuire
Available January 15, 2021
THE EPIC OF EVEREST
Made with a 1924 hand-cranked camera, the film records the struggles of the third attempt (by Westerners presumably) to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, known by Tibetans as Chomolungma, meaning Goddess Mother of Mountains. It’s an astonishing film, beautifully restored by the British Film Institute, which shows not only the incredible landscape and daunting work of the expedition, but also scenes of life in Tibet along the way to Chomolungma.
Filmmaker Noel had far less sensitive equipment than is now available – and his camera was so heavy that he had to film the final progress of the climbers from a great distance. But perhaps because of those limitations, the film feels itself susceptible and vulnerable to the actualities of land, weather, light and distance. It is not known if the two lead climbers, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine made it to the top of the mountain. They never returned.
Andrew Irvine, George Mallory
Available January 22, 2021