Friday, June 23, 2017

Starting Tonight: The 20th Annual Broncho Billy Film Festival At Niles

This weekend, the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum will present the 20th Annual Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival, which shall pay tribute to author and film preservationist David Shepard, director Frank Borzage, movies shot in 1917 and northern California filmmaking.

The three-day festival will be showing amazing cinema rarities you won't see anywhere else, among them two classic films made near the museum on the other side of Niles Canyon in Pleasanton: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917), starring Mary Pickford and Peck's Bad Boy (1921), starring Jackie Coogan.

There will also be a walking tour of Niles on Saturday, as well as a tribute to film archivist and friend of the museum, David Shepard, who left us earlier this year. The tribute includes the 1975 documentary The Moving Picture Boys in the Great War, that celebrated cornerstone of early American cinema, The Great Train Robbery and Lois Weber's 1913 feature Suspense.

The festival's annual program of films made at Niles, preceded by a presentation on movie locations by author Mark Wanamaker of Bison Archives, features four Essanay westerns starring movie pioneer G.M. "Broncho Billy" Anderson:

The Prospector (1912)
Broncho Billy and the Western Girls (1913)
Broncho Billy's Capture (1913)
Broncho Billy's Fatal Joke (1914)

There will also be a Pre-Festival Event: Rory J. O'Connor shall lead a San Francisco silent film locations walking tour, under the auspices of the Friends of the Library City Guides, on Friday, June 23. The starting point is The Station Cafe, 596 Pacific Street (cross street is Kearny). The tour starts at 1:00PM and will take about an hour and 45 minutes. Arrive 5-10 minutes early to sign in and to allow for a prompt start. If you're planning to go, please RSVP with the PR person for the museum, Rena Kiehn, at

For festival attendees who would like to tour the beautiful canyon that inspired the Essanay Film Studio to come to Niles, the Niles Canyon Railway will be running Sunday the 25th.

One can buy a festival pass for all programs. The shows hold forth at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum's Edison Theater at 37417 Niles Boulevard, Fremont, CA 94536-2949.

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