It is that time of year again in San Francisco bay area – film festival season. And we are not talking about “talkies,” but the Silent Film Festival of San Francisco, which is one of the longest running festivals in the US in this genre. This year marks the 19th year of the an Francisco Silent Film Festival (May 29-June 4, 2014). This year the festival is paying homage to the Roaring 20’s and features 17 silent films and a few short films. A highlight of the festival is the live orchestra that will play the music for the films. A handful of orchestras are featured in this year’s festival.
The opening night film is Rudolph Valentino’s “The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse,” by Rex Ingram. The film premiered in 1921 and changed Valentino’s career and turned him into a superstar of the silent films era. This was one of the highest grossing films of its time. Monto Alto Motion Picture Orchestra will play live music during the screening of the film.
A film that caught my eyes is the 1924 “The Epic Of Everest” that traces the 3rd expedition to this Himalayan mountain. Shot by Captain John Noel, the film was recently restored by Britain BFI National Archives. This is an unusual film since it has some of the earliest scenes of Tibetan people from the Tibetan Plateau from the 1920s. The film gives you an idea of what kind of preparation it took to undertake an expedition to Mount Everest.
The closing night film is Buster Keaton’s “The Navigator” (1924). The film was directed by comedic genius Keaton and Donald Crisp. This was the fourth film of “The Great Stone Face,” which was Keaton’s nickname.