Toronto Silent Film Festival Wraps Up
I will not be leaving my house tonight to sit in a theater and watch a silent movie while a pianist plays along. This is, sadly, an unfortunate state of affairs. But I did have the rare privilege of leaving my house every night for the past 6 NIGHTS to enjoy a silent movie, with an appreciative audience, and amazing live accompaniment thanks to the Toronto Silent Film Festival. How great is that? Indeed, we partied like it was 1926, or at least went to the movies like was 1926, and it was good.
Here are a few of my personal highlights from this year’s festival:
- The actual gasp from about half the audience at the über tragic ending of Tabu. Silent film fans know you’ll never get a happy ending from a German filmmaker, and certainly never from F.W. Murnau. The silent film newbie tag-a-long I brought with me – well, her jaw actually dropped. Does this mean there were lots of noobs in the audience? I hope so.
- Meeting the actual people behind many screen names, in particular my Twitter pal @missmccrocodile and her fab sister @caftanwoman. It turns out Twitter handles do have faces. @missmccrocodile told me her dad woke she and her siblings at midnight whenever a John Ford movie was on TV, prompting me to call my own father and ask why my film education was so neglected.
- Seeing Lotte Reiniger’s Cinderella on a big screen with an audience. This was just a really special treat for me. I’ve long been a fan of Reiniger but have never had the opportunity to see a screening of any of her work. I mean, when does that happen? To observe an audience interacting with Cinderella adds a new dimension to my understanding of her work.
- The amazing accompaniment from Bill O’Meara. All of the accompanists were amazing and talented, but Bill O’Meara’s play along for 1000 Laffs: Playmates was a revelation. He has a very special way of playing to the emotional reaction of the viewer, not just the action on-screen. If any doubt remained about the value of an accompanist, Bill O’Meara blew it out of the water.
- The closing night film Variety. Emil Jannings, in spandex, on a trapeze. ‘Nuff said.