Thursday, June 02, 2016

Starting Tonight: The 2016 San Francisco Silent Film Festival

Well, Memorial Day weekend has passed and that means not just the Sharks battling the Penguins for the Stanley Cup and the Warriors going mano-a-mano with the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, but classic movie events throughout the month of June. These include the 2016 San Francisco Silent Film Festival, Charlie Chaplin Days and Broncho Billy Film Festival at Niles, Bay Area Film Events' tribute to Godzilla at the Bal Theatre and the return of the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival on June 25.

Unfortunately, we will not be attending nearly as many of the programs as in past years and shall leave the lengthy write-ups to the numerous classic movie bloggers active at present - all of whom compose lengthy essays in the time it takes this correspondent to make a cup of coffee and come up with a title.

We shall make as much of the big screen fun, featuring cool guest presenters, acclaimed historians and gifted accompanists, as possible. Looking forward to the morning Amazing Tales From The Archives program and of course, all of the films of Rene Clair, who just a few years later made some of this correspondent's favorite early talkies (Under The Roofs Of Paris).

Also on the bill will be a screening of Fritz Lang's Destiny and tribute to Lang's artistic collaborator and wife, scenarist Thea von Harbou, hosted by actress and author Illeana Douglas. All at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog enjoyed seeing Miss Douglas, film buff, historian and granddaughter of Melvin Douglas, talk classic movies on TCM, as well as on a recent episode of Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast.

Of course, we absolutely must get our laughs and they will be supplied in quantity - yet again - by our pals Laurel & Hardy and Buster Keaton.

Buster shares the bill with the last word in wanton pie-throwing, Laurel and Hardy in The Battle Of The Century. Piano accompaniment for the Saturday morning L&H and Keaton program shall be by Dr. Jon Mirsalis, the accompanist, Lon Chaney, Sr. expert and film collector who found the long lost reel of Stan & Babe's laugh riot in the collection of the late Gordon Berkow.

Between shows, there will be numerous wonderful books for sale, and it's as tempting for a diehard classic movie buff to drop a ton of money on them as is it is for a famished foodie to go stone broke at the San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers' Market or Bi-Rite. The following tome on movie comediennes won't be there (it's not out yet - will be in the fall) but numerous remarkable books covering far-flung corners of film history will be up there on the mezzanine for the buying!

We attend the 2016 festival noting the untimely passing of Cinecon organizer and incredibly knowledgeable silent film expert Bob Birchard at 66 a few days ago. Bob was a good friend and helpful colleague to many of the authors and presenters who will be at the Castro Theatre this weekend. Randomly pick just about any book about silent movies and the early history of cinema and there will very likely be a bunch of rare stills and lobby cards that came from the collection of Mr. Birchard. R.I.P.

Check out this year's lineup at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival website. Buy tickets here.

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