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.
If you’re a lucky gal like me, in mere hours you’ll be in Innis Town Hall in Toronto, enjoying the launch of the Toronto Silent Film Festival. If you’re not that lucky, I have a lone tear rolling down my cheek for you.
As excited as I am about dancing the shimmy with young, lovely Joan Crawford in tonight’s feature Our Dancing Daughters (and that’s very excited), I’m equally eager for the screening of Lotte Reiniger‘s Cinderella. Though I have seen pretty much all of Reiniger’s work, I have never been graced with the opportunity to see it screened before an audience.
If you’re not familiar with the haunting and amazing silhouette animation of Lotte Reiniger, get thee to the interwebs! You can find a lot of her work, mostly shorts, all over YouTube, and Vimeo, and Daily Motion. Even Pretty Clever Film Gal posted some right here in June. But if you’re in Toronto, be sure to come out tonight to see this really astounding work get the live cinema treatment.
Doors open at Innis Town Hall at 7:30 pm. I predict a mob scene so you should buy your tickets now.
In the meantime, amuse yourself with learning a little bit more about the remarkable Lotte Reiniger and her amazing work. But don’t cheat and watch Cinderella!
In May of 1922, one Mr. Walt Disney opened a little animation studio in Kansas City Missouri. Laugh-O-Gram studios hobbled along with not much money, teetering on the edge of survival. A local dentist name Thomas McCrum extended the life of the studio for a short while with a $500 commission for Tommy Tucker’s Tooth (1922), the animated tooth that demonstrated the merits of brushing. (Yes, Thomas McCrum is solely responsible for the million animated, self-righteous teeth who lectured you through out your childhood). Read the rest of this entry