Monday, July 7, 2008

Are You Ready for the Marathon?

The 13th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival
July 11th-13th, 2008
The Castro Theatre
San Francisco

The Baguette Quartette.

San Francisco's historic Castro Theatre will house The 13th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival July 11th-13th. "This is our most ambitious festival yet," announced SFSFF Artistic Director Stephen Salmons. "We'll present twelve programs, all with live music, in the space of thirty hours - it's an all-out silent film marathon, designed to showcase the astonishing breadth and depth of the silent era." The festival's selection of foreign titles reflects their commitment to exposing their audiences to the true diversity of silent cinema. Included in this year's programming are the French farce Les Deux Timides; the German gay themed drama Mikael; the German animated film The Adventures of Prince Achmed; and the Japanese avant-garde tragedy Jujiro.

Rene Clair- director of Les Deux Timides
Legendary director Rene Clair's Les Deux Timides (Two Timid Souls) (1928) screens Saturday, July 12th at 2:15PM. Clair's raucous comedy centers on the pathologically shy Pierre's quest to marry the equally shy Cecile. Unfortunately, her father has another suitor in mind, the widowed former wife abuser Garadoux. Can Pierre overcome his timidity and win the girl of his dreams? The live accompaniment for the film marks the debut of the Bay Area's Baguette Quartette, known primarily for their renditions of classic Parisian dance hall music, at the festival. "The combination of Clair's innovative visual comedy and Baguette Quartette's high-energy tangos and fox trots is a match made in heaven," Salmons said. Renown stage magician and director Georges Meli/(R)s' short Les Fromages Automobiles (The Skipping Cheeses, 1907) precedes the feature film.
Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer's Mikael (1924), a landmark in gay cinema, follows Les Deux Timides at 4:15PM. A beautiful young man, Michael, inspires an older man, Zoret, both romantically and artistically. Zoret takes Mikael as his model and lover, but soon the protege betrays his master with tragic results. Dryer, as always, unfolds the story through powerful imagery (Karl Freund and Rudolph Mate served as cinematographers) and with a sympathetic understanding of the characters. Pianist Donald Sosin, a popular favorite from last year's festival, will return this year to accompany the film. Camille de Morlhon's short L'Histore D'une Rose (1911) precedes this feature.
A still from The Adventures of Prince Achmed.
Sunday July 13th's programming opens with Lotte Reiniger's The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926). Reiniger's film employs a pioneering technique, cut-out silhouette animation, to retell the exploits of Prince Achmed from the 1001 Arabian Nights. Indonesian shadow puppet theater inspired the film's unique and delicate style. The film's historical importance stems from it being both the earliest surviving feature-length animated film, and the first such film directed by a woman. Pianist Donald Sosin will also accompany this film. Special guest Simone Nelson of the Bay Area Women in Film and Television will introduce the film. The festival will run a fragment of Vincent Whitman's animated The Bottom of the Sea (1914) prior to the feature screening.
Image from Jujiro.
The final foreign selection in the festival, Teinosuke Kinugasa's Jujiro (Crossways) (1928), plays on July 13th at 6:10pm just prior to the closing night film, King Vidor's The Patsy (1928). Jujiro unfolds, in a surrealistic and visually expressionistic style, the story of Rikiya and his sister Okiku. He comes home to her for nursing after being severely wounded in a fight over a geisha. His deteriorating mental and physical condition forces Okiku to make terrible sacrifices. Pianist Stephen Horne, another favorite from last year's festival, will accompany the film. The film short Kaleidoscope (c.1925) screens before the feature.
This year's festival again promises to be an eye opening experience for first time and long time visitors. Festival audience members receive more than just the chance to see a wide-ranging line up of feature films, many unavailable on DVD. They also have a chance to see these films as they were meant to be seen: on the big screen, in a movie palace, accompanied live by talented musicians and with a large and appreciative audience. Every year, the festival also provides an excellent, and free, souvenir program that contains well thought essays on each film. And, as usual, the festival will also host several book signings. This year's authors include Suzanne Lloyd, author of Harold Lloyd's Hollywood Nudes in 3-D; film critic Leonard Maltin, director and author Guy Maddin and film preservationist David Shepard.
For more on The Adventures of Prince Achmed please read my fellow siffblog writer David Jeffers' review: For more details on the festival schedule and to purchase tickets, please go to:
The full schedule of screenings follows:
Friday July 11
7:00pm THE KID BROTHER Opening Night Film $17 Member/$20 General
9:00pm OPENING NIGHT PARTY $20 Member/$25 General
Saturday July 12
10:00am AMAZING TALES FROM THE ARCHIVES Free Admission- ticket required
11:40am THE SOUL OF YOUTH $12 Member/$14 General
2:15pm LES DEUX TIMIDES $12 Member/$14 General
4:15pm MIKA/aL $12 Member/$14 General
7:45pm THE MAN WHO LAUGHS Centerpiece Film $15 Member/$17 General
10:45pm THE UNKNOWN Director's Pick: Guy Maddin $12/$14
Sunday July 13
10:30am THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED $12 Member/$14 General
1:10pm THE SILENT ENEMY $12 Member/$14 General
3:50pm HER WILD OAT $12 Member/$14 General
6:10pm JUJIRO $12 Member/$14 General
8:45pm THE PATSY Closing Night Film $15 Member/$17 General
FESTIVAL PASS $120 Member/$140 General
May 27-July 10
BY PHONE: 1-800-838-3006 24 hours a day 7 days a week
BY MAIL OR FAX: download order form at
June 13-July 10
IN PERSON: Festival Box Office, 833 Market Street, Suite 811, San Francisco
Hours: Thursday-Friday Noon-6pm
Day of Show
Castro Theatre Box Office
Hours: Friday 5:00-8:00pm; Saturday 9:00am-11:00pm; Sunday 9:30am-9:00pm

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