|ABOVE: Buster Keaton in The General|
BELOW: Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc
The Toronto Silent Film Festival returns for its annual week-long celebration of movie classics from the silent era, commencing April 4. (Upon realizing that this will be its fourth year of existence, yours truly let out an Elwy Yost-styled, "Egad!" Time flies when you're having fun!)
The fest was originated by our friend and fellow Toronto Film Noir Syndicate programmer Shirley Hughes, who can take great pride in seeing this tradition grow into a viable institution among local cinephiles. Each movie is further enhanced with introductions by programmers and film scholars, some beautifully printed screening notes, and live musical accompaniment. This year is once again a solid lineup of classics and rarities. Even if you have seen some of these films already, you owe it to yourself to see them in their proper context: in a theatre, with an appreciative audience and… did I say live musical accompaniment?
Another novel characteristic of the festival is that it does not limit itself to happening in one fixed location, thus encouraging neighbouring residents to check something out whenever it plays nearby. The program alternates between Innis Town Hall, The Carlton, The Revue Cinema, The Fox Theatre, and especially Casa Loma (where the accompanying house Wurlitzer organ guarantees a showstopper).
Although it's still three weeks away, it's probably a good idea to get your tickets ahead of time to avoid sellouts.
Here is this year's schedule:
Thurs. April 4: Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)- simply one of the greatest films ever made.
Fri. April 5: Tokyo Chorus (1931), by the legendary director Yasujiro Ozu. (Note: Japan did not start making sound pictures until several years after The Jazz Singer premiered in 1927.)
Sat. April 6: King Vidor's masterpiece The Crowd (1928), as timely now as it was 85 years ago.
Sun. April 7: 1000 Laffs: Slapstick Smorgasbord. A certified afternoon of fun, this program of silent comedy shorts always brings the house down. Every year this screening has combined films by comedians who are household names, with works by others who are less-remembered but of no less importance. This year we'll see films with Laurel & Hardy, Harold Lloyd, Max Davidson, Roscoe Arbuckle and Charley Chase.
Mon. April 8: America's sweetheart Mary Pickford stars in My Best Girl (1927). Her films aren't easily seen today, so this is a must.
Tues. April 9: Buster Keaton appears in the timeless classic The General (1927), and the delightful silent short The Railrodder (1965), produced by the NFB!
For further information on times, locations and tickets, visit the TSFF website!