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Silent Film Festival, Event report from the founders

DECEMBER 1ST EVENT REPORT
"Dear Friend of the Silent Film Festival,

Thank you for making 2007 a remarkable year. Our 12th annual festival was our most memorable yet, and three weeks ago you helped make our one-day Winter Event a tremendous success.

Beginning with VITAPHONE VAUDEVILLE, Robert Gitt's introduction enthralled us with stories about such vaudeville characters as the brothers Willie & Eugene Howard, billed in their day as “Two Hebrew Humorists Who Hail from Harlem,” bandleader Dick Rich who discovered The Andrew Sisters, and female impersonator Bert Savoy, who was struck down by lightning on a beach just after cursing God.

We were honored to have Patrick Stanbury of Photoplay Productions as our special guest for INTOLERANCE. He explained that the film had been shot at multiple speeds over the 18 months of its production, and that any attempt to accurately exhibit the film today would require changing the speed during its projection – which Patrick did himself! Russell Merritt then enlightened the audience with tales of D.W. Griffith's editing obsession and how he accompanied the film to each city during its original theatrical release. "One consequence was that no two cities saw that same film. Griffith spent another ten years fiddling with it, playing with it, revising it and adjusting it."

A celebration on the theater mezzanine followed INTOLERANCE, with live music provided by modern-day vaudevillians The Frisky Frolics. More than one of us commented on their similarity to The Mound City Blue Blowers who had thrilled us just hours earlier in the Vitaphone program.

We kicked off the evening presentation with RIVALINDER, a 1907 shocker from Denmark. This story of an adulterous affair that leads to a duel/murder/suicide - in 5 minutes flat - caught everyone by surprise, and perfectly set the mood for the Garbo-Gilbert drama to follow.

In her charming introduction to FLESH AND THE DEVIL, Christel Schmidt of The Library of Congress informed us that the print we were about to see had never been screened before. “Hopefully it’s a pristine copy – we’re all going to find out together! If it isn't, the tomatoes don't come my way." She added, “There are two different endings. And since I, nor anyone else have ever seen this print, we’re not sure which one you’re going to get.” As it turned out, the film contained both endings and no tomatoes were thrown! Dennis James’ magnificent, soul-wrenching accompaniment on the Mighty Wurlitzer was the perfect compliment to this great scorcher.

This was a night – and an entire day – that we will never forget (see below for more of our favorite festival moments). We are grateful to have celebrated the magic of silent cinema with so many dedicated and passionate movie lovers."

Warm Regards and Happy Holidays,
Stacey, Stephen, Jeremy, and Jesse


FAVORITE FESTIVAL MOMENTS
 Christel Schmidt nearly stealing the show from Garbo and Gilbert with her engaging, high-energy introduction to FLESH AND THE DEVIL. Folks were so taken with her that they flooded the Booksmith table and bought up all copies of Silent Movies: The Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture. After the book sold out, several enthusiasts lined up to have Library of Congress's rock star sign their programs!
 The Norman Thomas Quintette drummer thrilling the audience with his half-musical, half-acrobatic performance in Harlem-Mania.
 The spontaneous rug-cutting of party guests who couldn’t keep still during the The Frisky Frolics performance, even though there was no dance floor.
 Seeing an actual Vitaphone disc, brought by Jim Cassedy from his private collection.
STATS
 Number of times the “chambermaid” joke was made in the VITAPHONE VAUDEVILLE shorts program: 2
 Number of miles that John Hillman and Marcelo Coronado of SilentCinema.com traveled to see INTOLERANCE and where they unfurled their original mint-condition poster of The Mother and the Law: 382
 Estimated value of that poster: “You could buy a car for what it cost.”
(according to Russell Merritt)
 Manual film speed changes in INTOLERANCE performed by Patrick Stanbury in the Castro projection booth: 42
 Number of alternate endings to FLESH AND THE DEVIL: 2 (one happy, one unhappy)
 Number of volunteers that once again rocked our silent movie world with their tireless and good natured support: 45!

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Chatelin Bruno
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