Silent films to enlighten

AS part of Canberra’s Enlighten Festival, the National Film and Sound Archive will present a silent film festival called “Cinema’s Golden Summer.” 

A still from one of the films, "The Unseen Enemy," by D W Griffith, 1912

A still from one of the films, “The Unseen Enemy,” by D W Griffith, 1912

Screened in the Arc cinema and in the NFSA courtyard will be 16 silent films of drama, magic, illusion and comedy, all with live musical accompaniment.

Musicians providing that accompaniment include internationally acclaimed pianists Mauro Colombis and Elaine Loebenstein, Canberra’s Joshua McHugh (piano), Gary France (percussion) and friends Miroslav Bukovsky (trumpet) and Carl Dewhurst (guitar) playing cool live percussion pieces, and Sydney’s Luke Sweeting and his trio (improvised jazz).

As well, there will be lectures and discussions on the films by film historians, Ina Bertrand, Andrew Pike and Graham Shirley.

Arc’s chief cinema programmer, Quentin Turnour, said today that Arc would focus on the birth of the feature film, in Australia and the world, in the period 1910-1913, drawing on film archive collections from around the globe.

The Golden Summer screenings will commence with an outdoor screening of the Italian masterpiece “Inferno” (1911) tomorrow, Saturday February 23, peaking on the two “Enlighten” weekends coming up in early March.

Other films will include French cinema’s first crime thrillers and film noirs, like “Fantomas” (1913); compelling social dramas from Swedish and Danish cinema, like “Atlantis” (1913) which recreated the Titanic disaster the following year ; and Australia’s oldest surviving feature films like “Thunderbolt” (1910) and the “Romantic Story of Margaret Catchpole” (1911).

There will also be a look at the first “exploitation” films, movies about the sensational White Slavery issue of the time.

On Thursday March 23. For the full program visit nfsa.gov.au/arc.

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