A few notes about the two festivals opening next Thursday:
San Francisco Silent Film Festival
Pianist, entertainer, film preservationist, and Mel Novikoff Award recipient Serge Bromberg (how many people have that resume) wins this year’s Francisco Silent Film Festival Award. The Festival will present him with the award on Saturday, May 30, at the screening of Visages d’enfants, a French classic that Bromberg recently restored. Oddly, Bromberg won’t be tickling the keys for that screening.
Bromberg and his company, Lobster Films, have brought many important and obscure films back to life. They’ve restored the hand-painted version of A Trip to the Moon, made Chaplin’s Mutual shorts look new again, and brought us a longer, alternate cut of Buster Keaton’s The Blacksmith (which I have not yet seen).
Bromberg will be around for the entire festival. He’ll host this year’s Amazing Tales from the Archives, accompany the collection of Charley Bowers shorts, and will join Kevin Brownlow for an on-stage discussion before Ben Hur.
A couple of other silent tidbits:
The Blanche Sweet vehicle, The Deadlier Sex, will be preceded with a Fleischer cartoon, Koko’s Queen.
Matti Bye, who with his ensemble will accompany Flesh and the Devil and Norrtullsligan at the festival, recently won a Swedish award for his score for a new film, Faro. Also nominated was his score for The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, which is currently playing in local theaters (I haven’t seen it yet).
Green Film Festival
I managed to preview another film screening at this year’s festival:
A- Landfill Harmonic
Thousands of families live in Cateura, Paraguay, even though it’s not really a town; it’s a garbage dump. And out of that dump comes beautiful music according to this inspiring documentary. Environmental engineer turned music teacher Favio Chávez put together a young people’s orchestra playing home-made instruments built from recycled materials. The group gains Internet fame, accompanies Megadeth in concert (although they usually play classical), performs around the world, and enjoys some relief from grinding poverty. I wish it had gone deeper into how the instruments were made, and the likelihood that music will lift these kids out of poverty. You can’t watch it without rooting for these children, and for the adults shaping their lives.
Landfill Harmonic screens Wednesday, June 3, 6:00, at the Roxie. The movie will be followed by a discussion with the filmmakers (but not, apparently, with a concert).
I’m picking Bromberg.