Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Buster Keaton, aka Grandpa

On Sunday, March 27th, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat ran a profile of Melissa Talmadge Cox, the grandaughter of Buster Keaton and a past guest at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Cox, an artist and a landscape gardener, lives in Cloverdale, near Santa Rosa. Check out the profile at http://cloverdale.towns.pressdemocrat.com/2011/03/news/buster-keaton-aka-grandpa/

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Musical Demonstration with Composer Matti Bye

Sound and Silent Film in Nature
A Musical Demonstration with Composer Matti Bye

Join the Silent Film Festival and the Headlands Center for the Arts
for a special dinner and preview performance with
Artist in Residence Matti Bye
Tuesday, April 5


Artist in Residence Matti Bye, with his musical partner Kristian Holmgren, will demonstrate his approach to composing music for silent film, including works-in-progress commissioned by Headlands and the SFSFF. These compositions will be performed as part of the Festival’s summer program, accompanying the U.S. premiere of the Swedish film, Gunnar Hedes Saga aka The Blizzard (1923), in addition to the North American premiere of the newly restored print of The Great White Silence (1924), an official record of Scott's legendary South Pole expedition, and He Who Gets Slapped (1924), directed by Victor Sjöström and starring Lon Chaney, Norma Shearer, and John Gilbert.

This special event is a Joint Project of Headlands Center for the Arts and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and will take place at the Headlands Center for the Arts, building 944, in Marin. This collaborative project is made possible in part by the generous support of the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation. And what's more, Silent Film Festival members receive a member discount to this event.

6:30 PM Dinner + Presentation: $25/$20 Headlands and SFSFF members | Click here for tickets

8 PM Presentation Only: $10/$5 Headlands and SFSFF members| Click here for tickets

Matti Bye (born 1966), who participated in last Summer's Festival, is widely considered one of Sweden’s most important composers of film scores and an extraordinary performer with his own, incomparable style of improvisation on the piano. In 2008 he wrote the score for Academy Award nominee Jan Troell’s latest feature Everlasting Moments and Stig Björkman's Scenes From A Playhouse, a documentary about Ingmar Bergman. He has 2 experimental improvisation bands (Vinter and Maailma) and will soon be ready with his first filmwork, called The Birth of A Moving Image which is a tribute to early film in a new cinematic and musical approach. He lives and works partly in Stockholm and partly in Berlin.

Bye will be joined in residence by his musical partner Kristian Holmgren, a member of the Matti Bye Ensemble, which has been performing regularly since the mid 90’s, supplying musical scores to silent films from Sweden and from the rest of the world.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Marc Ribot accompanies Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid

SFJAZZ Spring Season 2011
“Jazz & Silent Film”
Marc Ribot accompanies Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid
Wednesday, March 16, 7:30pm
$20 GA/$35 Premium GA
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum
701 Mission Street, San Francisco 94103866-920-5299, www.sfjazz.org

No guitarist in jazz has traveled a more circuitous creative path than Marc Ribot, a major force on Manhattan’s Downtown music scene since the mid-1980s. Applying his unorthodox technique and vast, percussive sonic palette to a mind-boggling array of musical realms, he’s delved into the classic compositions of the great Cuban sonero Arsenio Rodríguez, explored Albert Ayler’s ecstatic free jazz forays, investigated country music in Nashville with Bill Frisell and Buddy Miller, and collaborated with spiritually charged pianist McCoy Tyner. While often associated with the avant-garde, Ribot can thrive in just about any musical context, for instance contributing prominently to the work of Elvis Costello and Tom Waits, as well as Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’s five-time Grammy Award winning 2007 album Raising Sand. His latest project, Silent Film, features compositions inspired by his love of cinema, and for this performance he’s revisiting his score for Charlie Chaplin’s classic 1921 film The Kid, which premiered last year as part of the New York Guitar Festival.

Marc Ribot will accompany Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid on Wednesday, March 16 at 7:30pm at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum.
Ribot is also celebrating  the release of anew CD, Silent Movies,. This new release finds the guitarist taking another surprising step in a career filled with unexpected turns. 

One might expect a program of solo guitar music from Ribot to be filled with bracing atonality or studies in texture. Instead, Silent Movies is filled with performances of gorgeous contemplation that linger on the mind long after they are over. The album reflects Ribot’s fascination with movies and contains pieces intended to function as music for films: some are adaptations of music he has actually written for films, others for classic silent movies that he scored for his personal amusement, still others for films of his own imagination. His goal is to explore, as he says “the strange area between language and spatiality that exists partly in between music and visual image, and partly as a common property of both.

Performed in complete takes, with only minimal atmospheric overdubs, Silent Movies was partly inspired by Ribot's experience preparing for a live accompaniment of the Charlie Chaplin film The Kid at Merkin Concert Hall in January 2010, as part of the New York Guitar Festival. Some tracks were composed for “El General,” Natalia Almada’s documentary film about Plutarco Elías Calles who ruled Mexico with an iron hand from 1924 to1935 and still others for the unreleased movie “Drunk Boat.” All of the compositions were written by Ribot except “Sous le Ciel de Paris,” the title song from the classic French movie by Julien Duvivier that was made a hit by Edith Piaf among many others. Here for yourself this Wednesday, or listen to Marc Ribot on Fresh Air with Terry Gross.


"Mercurial in the best possible sense and impossible to categorize." -- National Public Radio (NPR)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Silent Film Stars exhibit at SFO

An exhibit about silent film stars of the 1920's was recently on display at the San Francisco International Airport. Here is what the SFO website has to say:

"By the end of the 1920s, much of what is now recognized as modern cinema was already established. Silent films were never really silent. In the 1920s, most films had full musical scores performed in grand theaters on piano, organ, or with a full orchestra. Films were evolving, becoming longer and costlier. Moviemakers in the 1920s produced the largest number of feature-length films. By the end of the 1920s, silent pictures were replaced by sound pictures called “talkies.” The development of the major motion picture studios in California also took place during this period. The studios were directly involved with the promotion of their films and fully exploited the glamorous appeal of their movie stars.

In an effort to advertise its product, studios produced promotional material and distributed them to theaters, newspapers, magazines, and the public. Posters to promote individual movies were distributed directly to theaters. Photographs, both stills (depicting a staged scene from a movie), and portraits of the stars, were displayed in theaters and given to the press. Smaller images of the stars, produced on paper with printed autographs, were sent out to a great number of fans who wrote letters to their favorite stars. Fans became even more interested in the professional and private lives of the stars, leading to the rise of fan magazines and newspaper articles.

One of the most popular and enduring stars of the silent era was Mary Pickford, beloved by her fans as “America’s Sweetheart.” She was one of the first stars to take an active role in her own career, becoming one of the founders of United Artists. While another incredibly popular star of the period was Rin-Tin-Tin—a German shepherd dog—who at the height of his fame, received over ten thousand fan letters a week. Rin-Tin-Tin’s immense popularity is also credited with saving his studio from bankruptcy.

The images silent film stars left behind shed light on a bygone era. Many 1920s movie stars served to define the time, such as Clara Bow’s vivacious flapper image. Others, like Joan Crawford, would have enduring careers spanning many decades. Although some have been forgotten, many more remain revered for the glamorous allure they brought to movie fans of the 1920s.

This exhibit is located post-security, where only ticketed passengers are allowed." We'd love to hear from anyone who saw the exhibit. Please post your thoughts or observations in the comments field.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Balboa Birthday Bash

Sunday, March 6 @ 7:00pm:
Balboa Birthday Bash!
With MORAN OF THE LADY LETTY
Presented in association with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival


Many people say that the Balboa Birthday Bash is their favorite party of the year. They go all out to recreate a night at the movies in 1926, when the Balboa opened. Attendees are urged to come dressed in clothing evoking the 1920s, the Jazz Age, a star of the silent screen, or maybe as pirates or sailors reflecting the featured movie, which also has a cross-dressing subplot! 

For the Balboa’s Birthday Bash, the theater decided to show a rarely seen and recently digitally restored adventure movie, Moran of the Lady Letty (1922). Filmed in San Francisco and Tiburon, it features many locations in The City from the Embarcadero to cable cars and even an early North Beach cinema.

IN PERSON
Frederick Hodges will accompany with an original music score. There will be short subjects plus live vaudeville featuring songbird Linda Kosut, magician extraordinaire James Hamilton and the piano stylings of David Austin. There will be prizes, a special birthday cake created by Dianne Boate using Tcho chocolate and lively libations to wash it down.

Several authors will join us to sign their books. Meet Donna Hill, author of "Rudolph Valentino- The Silent Idol," Emily Leider author of "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino," Jack Tillmany ("Theatres of San Francisco" and "Theatres of Oakland"), Gary Parks ("Theatre of San Jose"), and Julie Lindow ("Left in the Dark").

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Silent Surrealism at the Lark

The Hot Club of San Francisco (“One of the most cohesive and entertaining gypsy swing bands in the U.S.” - San Francisco Chronicle), in cooperation with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, presents an evening of silent film with live gypsy jazz and silent surrealist films at the Lark Theater in Larkspur.

This special event, produced by Ellie Mednick in association with the Lark Theater, will take place on Thursday March 3 at 8pm.

The distinctive music made famous by Stephane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt, and the Hot Club de France provides a brilliant multi-media trip back to 1920’s Paris when an artistic and literary film style accompanied by captivating music emerged as a means of expressing the imagination.


The music of The Hot Club of San Francisco has entranced audiences around the globe for over 10 years. Critics have hailed the group’s playing as “intricate, scorching and often brilliant…”- Acoustic Guitar. From festivals in Mexico and France to concert halls across North America, The Hot Club of San Francisco keeps this historic music fresh and alive.

The 3 short films to be shown at the Lark are There it Is (1928), starring Charley Bowers, the French The Fall of the House of Usher (1928), and The Land Beyond the Sunset (1912); each are recognized as brilliant, strange and entertaining filmmaking. Hot Club of San Francisco will accompany each film.

For more information, visit http://www.larktheater.net/newsidcontainer/1-Latest%20News/158-silent-surrealism or call (415) 924-5111. Seating is limited!