Rare films from around the globe, featuring everyone from Marlene Dietrich to Walt Disney’s earliest animated characters, marked the 16th annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival this past weekend…along with the announcement of the Festival’s plans to screen Abel Gance’s Napoleon with a live orchestra next spring. (see separate story HERE).
Executive director Stacey Wisnia, Artistic director Anita Monga, their dedicated staff and board of directors put on another great, wide-ranging show featuring films from Sweden, Japan, Germany, Italy, England, and Russia. It’s a far cry from the early years of the festival when founders Melissa Chittick and Stephen Salmons were grateful that anyone would show up to see Hollywood classics of the silent era. Now, the SFSFF has built up an audience that is willing to try unusual and challenging fare along with old favorites.
One of the happiest discoveries was the world premiere of a newly-restored Douglas Fairbanks film from 1918, Mr. Fix-It, written and directed by Allan Dwan. The day before its screening, preservationist Ken Fox (a graduate of the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation) described the challenge of translating its—
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