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The 14th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival

"Dear Friend of The Silent Film Festival,

We are thrilled to announce the lineup for The 14th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival, taking place at the Castro Theatre on July 10-12. Tickets are on sale now for the foremost celebration of silent cinema in the Americas!

In the space of a mere three days audiences will have the chance to experience the breathtaking vitality and depth of the silent era with 12 programs of classic films and rediscoveries—complete with live musical accompaniment in a grand movie palace setting!

This year's lineup features the work of behind-the-camera giants King Vidor, Joseph von Sternberg, Victor Sjöström, Walt Disney, and D.W Griffith and silent icons Douglas Fairbanks, John Gilbert, Lillian Gish, W.C. Fields, and Mary Pickford. And, if you’ve never seen the charming Lupe Vélez in action, now is your chance —twice! After our screenings of The Gaucho and Lady of the Pavements, Ms. Vélez will have your heart in her tiny, feisty fist!

We’ll kick off the festival with a dazzling new 35mm print of The Gaucho, accompanied by the premiere of Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra’s new score written expressly for this screening. After you witness how the fiery Mountain Girl (Lupe Vélez) tames The Gaucho (Fairbanks), come up to the theater mezzanine for our Opening Night Party and enjoy food, drinks, and music with other silent film lovers.

Vélez also closes the festival in D.W. Griffith’s Lady of the Pavements as a Spanish cabaret chanteuse who attracts the affections of Prussian aristocrat (William Boyd – future “Hopalong Cassidy” star). Griffith’s last silent is a revelation! After its completion, the film was partially re-shot to qualify as part-talkie—our special screening will include a vocal recreation of the musical numbers by Joanna Seaton.

Lillian Gish + Victor Sjöström + wind machine + Dennis James = an unforgettable silent film experience you won’t want to miss! Master of the Mighty Wurlitzer Dennis James returns with a new score for our Centerpiece program of The Wind, which includes a real wind machine (the kind used in silent movie scores in the 1920s and still used today at the opera, ballet and symphony)! Leonard Maltin will introduce this program.

Stick around for more Dennis James magic for our “Late Night” (but not too late) screening of Aelita, Queen of Mars (1924), an example of early futurist Soviet cinema. With constructivist sets and costumes, space travel, jealousy, desire and a Martian uprising, Aelita plays like a delirious marriage of Metropolis and a Buck Rogers serial. And with Mark Goldstein’s Buchla Lightning joining James on organ AND Theremin, fun is sure to be had!

For our 2nd annual Director’s Pick program, Terry Zwigoff (Crumb, Ghost World, Bad Santa) selected a rare W.C. Field’s film So’s Your Old Man which was recently inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry! Zwigoff will be interviewed on stage by SFSFF’s Frank Buxton and discuss Field’s influences.

John Gilbert captivates the lovely Eleanor Boardman (and the audience) in King Vidor’s previously lost film Bardelys the Magnificent (1927). David Shepard, last year’s recipient of The Silent Film Festival Award, will introduce the West Coast Premiere of the beautiful digital restoration of this swashbuckling romance.

Czar of Noir, Eddie Muller joins us to introduce Josef von Sternberg’s hard-hitting crime drama Underworld (1927) which garnered writer Ben Hecht his first Academy Award (despite his demand to have his name removed from the credits!).

Before Mickey Mouse, there was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit! Leonard Maltin and Leslie Iwerks (granddaughter of Oswald animator Ub Iwerks) will guide us through this program of innovative and side-splitting animated shorts.

Our international presentations run the full gamut of styles and genres. In addition to Aelita, we’ll screen Gustav Machatý’s Czech scorcher Erotikon (1929), French director Jean Epstein’s surrealist adaptation of Poe’s story The Fall of the House of Usher (1928), and a love story, Wild Rose (1932), from China.

Qin Yi, the widow of Wild Rose leading man Jin Yang (considered the Valentino of China), will join us at this program! A significant player herself in the Chinese performing arts, we are doubly thrilled to have Qin with us at this screening where The San Francisco Silent Film Festival Award will be given to the Chinese Film Archive in recognition of their commitment to the preservation of silent films.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Mary Pickford’s screen debut. In honor of America’s Sweetheart, we’ll celebrate by screening shorts from Biograph Studios throughout the festival including three newly restored Pickfords!

Joe Lindner from the Academy Film Archive, who thrilled last year’s audience with his presentation on restoring Her Wild Oat, returns this year with Heather Olson (also from the Academy) for our 4th annual Amazing Tales from the Archives program. A trailer for a lost Constance Talmadge film, an Edison short, and a preview of a major project to restore films from the Archive’s collection of 28mm film will all be part of the presentation.

Also at the Amazing Tales program, our 2008 Silent Film Fellowship recipient Anne Smatla will present the premiere of Screen Snapshots – 7th Series, which she restored last summer at Monaco Labs. Please visit our website to read more about this fellowship and how you can help the next generation of film preservationists through The Silent Film Preservation Fund.

And, as always, the films will be presented in the finest 35mm prints available, with era-appropriate scores performed live by internationally renowned musicians, including Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, pianists Philip Carli, Stephen Horne, and Donald Sosin, and Wurlitzer maestro Dennis James.

Start making space in your house now, our good friends at McRoskey Mattress Company are providing the grand prize to our raffle again this year-- a $2,700 Shopping Spree!

Please see below for complete festival details and information on how to buy advance tickets. If you are on our mailing list, the festival program guide will be in your mailbox soon. For further news and updates, keep an eye on our website and watch for our next newsletter."

Warm Regards,
Stacey, Anita, Jeremy, and Jesse

P.S. - If you'd like to become a SFSFF member, now's the time! Join by June 15 and contribute to the Challenge Match. In return, you can receive one of Leonard Maltin's special thank you gifts.

The Line Up

Friday July 10
7:00pm THE GAUCHO (1927, F. Richard Jones, USA)
Plus: Restored two-strip Technicolor Outtakes from THE GAUCHO
Live accompaniment by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
Underwritten by McRoskey Mattress Company
Co-Presented by The Mexican Museum
Special Guests: Jeffrey Vance and Tony Maietta

Live Music, food and drinks!

Saturday July 11
Live piano Accompaniment by Stephen Horne

12:00 noon BARDELYS THE MAGNIFICENT (1926, King Vidor, USA) West Coast Premiere!
Plus short: THEY WOULD ELOPE (1909)
Live accompaniment by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
Underwritten by Friends of the Festival

2:30 WILD ROSE (1928, Sun Yu, China)
Plus short: GIRL FOR $1.98
Live piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin
2009 Silent Film Festival Award Chinese Film Archive
Underwritten by Richard J. Meyer and Susan Harmon

5:00 UNDERWORLD (1927, Joseph Von Sternberg, USA)
Plus short: VOICE OF THE VIOLIN (1909, D.W. Griffith)
Live piano accompaniment by Stephen Horne
Underwritten by Adam Rubinson
Co-Presented by The Film Noir Foundation

7:30 THE WIND (1928, Victor Sjostrom, USA)
Plus shorts: THE TRICK THAT FAILED (1909) and GETTING EVEN (1909)
Live accompaniment by Dennis James on the Mighty Wurlitzer
Special Guest: Leonard Maltin

9:45 AELITA. QUEEN OF MARS (1924, Yakov Protazanov, Russia)
Live accompaniment by Dennis James on the Mighty Wurlitzer and Mark Goldstein on the Theremin and Buchla Lightning Sticks
Co-Presented by MiDNiTES FOR MANiACS

Sunday July 12
10:30am OSWALD THE LUCKY RABBIT (1927-28, Walt Disney, USA)
Live piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin
Special Guests: Leonard Maltin and Leslie Iwerks

1:30 EROTIKON (1929, Gustav Machaty, Czechoslovakia)
Plus short: FATE'S TURNING (1911, D.W. Griffith)
Live accompaniment by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

4:00 SO'S YOUR OLD MAN (1926, Gregory La Cava, USA)
Live piano accompaniment by Philip Carli
Underwritten by Wells Fargo

6:15 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (Jean Epstein, 1928, France)
Live piano accompaniment by Stephen Horne
Generous Assistance provided by Consulate General of France
Co-Presented by San Francisco Film Society

8:15 LADY OF THE PAVEMENTS (1929, D.W. Griffith, USA)
Plus short: THE LESSER EVIL (1912, D.W. Griffith)
Live Piano Accompaniment by Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton

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