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Silent Films Speak At Brooklyn Academy of Music

 

Monday, September 8----------From October 18–21, BAMcinématek, the repertory film program at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Rose Cinemas will present the  Pordenone Silent Film Weekend,  featuring highlights from the legendary Pordenone Silent Film Weekend in Italy, the world's most prestigious film festival devoted to the art of the silent cinema.  The series, which is celebrating its sixth anniversary at BAM, focuses this year on the early silent classics from the Danish film studio Nordisk, whose remarkable productions rival the technique of Hollywood.

The world-renowned Pordenone Silent Film Weekend was founded by a group of eight friends, including husband–and–wife film connoisseurs Livio Jacob and Piera Patat in Pordenone, Italy. A mere eight registered guests attended the festival’s first season in 1982, but over the last quarter century, the festival has grown into the world’s most important annual showcase of silent film. Every year, film aficionados sample rare and newly discovered gems from the silent era over an intense, week–long period. The screenings, most of which feature live musical accompaniment, are supplemented by a wealth of catalogues, panel discussions, and gallery exhibitions. 

The Festival  kicks off on October 18 with THE CLOWN (1926) by A.W. Sandberg, the first of two films in the series by the director ( THE HILL PARK MYSTERY screens on October 20). The Danish Film Institute identifies Sandberg as the leading director at Nordisk between 1916 and 1926. He left the company, after having served as head of the production department for a number of years, due to financial disputes over the making of THE CLOWN. This affecting tale of a singing clown who spirals into despair is a remake of Sandberg’s 1916 film of the same name. 

The salute to silents continues on October 19 with TREASURES FROM A CHEST, a unique and widely popular annual program of found silent films curated by film preservationist/entertainer Serge Bromberg. The collection was distilled from nearly 200 pounds of old film discovered in a hidden chest in a house in France and includes comedies, tragedies, fantasies, trick films, newsreels, cartoons, and “talkies” selected to recreate the magic of the first cinema screenings. Bromberg will be present for live piano accompaniment and commentary.

A double bill of two films is next on October 20. Audiences can see A.W. Sandberg’s  THE HILL PARK MYSTERY  (1923) and August Blom’s THE LAST VICTIM OF THE WHITE SLAVE TRADE (1911) on a special double bill program. The latter film is the first of three films by Blom in this series , an example of the many “white slave trade” films, mainly centered on young women being sold to brothels abroad, which were popular in Denmark at the time. Also screening that day is the epic ATLANTIS (1913), an adaptation of a novel by Nobel prize–winning writer Gerhart Hauptmann which depicted a catastrophic shipwreck that was published merely four weeks before the sinking of the Titanic. Critics have noted Blom’s influence on future Hollywood super director Michael Curtiz (CASABLANCA), who was assistant director on the film.  

The series closes on October 21 with two futuristic feature films. Blom’s apocalyptic vision THE END OF THE WORLD (1916) is paired with Holger–Madsen’s SKY SHIP (1918), another early entry in the science fiction genre. All the films in the series will be presented with live musical accompaniment. The grandeur and sophisticated visuals of these early silent gems certainly do SPEAK LOUDLY. This is a must for film buffs and those who appreciate the power of film. For more information on this and other series at BAM, visit their website: www.bam.org.

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor

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(International Media Resources)

The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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