The schedule for this year’s San Francisco Silent Film Festival is up. Running, as usual, at the Castro, the festival has been expanded from three days to four. Author, filmmaker, and archivist Kevin Brownlow will be in attendance, making this his second Bay Area festival appearance in a little over three years.
As usual, all screenings will be accompanied by live music. Musicians include festival regular pianists Donald Sosin and Stephen Horne, as well as the ever-popular Dennis James on the Castro’s Wurlitzer pipe organ. The Alloy Orchestra makes its first SFSFF appearance in years, and the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra will accompany Diary of a Lost Girl. And a group I’ve never heard or even heard of, the Matti Bye Ensemble, will play for two films.
And all of them will get together Saturday afternoon for Variations on a Theme, a discussion on scoring silent films.
I have one complaint about the choice of musicians, however. Sosin will accompany two ethnically-interesting films: the Chinese A Spray of Plum Blossoms and the African-American The Flying Ace. I like Sosin’s work, but specialists in Chinese and African-American music would have been more interesting choices. Five years ago, the festival used the Latin American Chamber Music Society for the Brazilian Sangue Mineiro, and Indian classical musicians for Prem Sanyas. I would have loved something in tune with those traditions.
Among the films to be screened are The Iron Horse, John Ford’s first big-budget western; the newly-restored, almost complete Metropolis (see my report); The Strong Man (whose last Bay Area screening I reported here); the Soviet classic Man with a Movie Camera; and the ever-popular Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages.
I know where I’m going to be for much of those four days.