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Denver's 2nd Silent Film Festival Celebrates Early Cinema

Festivals
by Darwyn Carson
September 17, 2012 7:56 PM
2 Comments
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© AMPAS The Oscar winning, 'Wings' (1927) opens the annual Denver Silent Film Festival.

Festival Coverage by Darwyn Carson - It’s official: The Denver Silent Film Festival is now an annual event! An opening gala—at the Seawell Ballroom on September 21st—heralds the start of its second year.

This time last year, I was lucky enough to be in Colorado for its launching: three days of screenings (personal favorite: Josef von Sternberg’s 1927 gangster drama Underworld), with musical accompaniment (by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, Hank Troy and Donald Sosin) and lively conversation.

Alexander Payne took time out from his Descendants commitments to participate in presenting his mentor, David Shepard, with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Payne’s speech, about being a young film student and the effect the revered archivist had on him and his choices later on as a working filmmaker, was very moving. It was obvious that the two shared a great affection and respect for one another.

The University of Colorado and various sponsors make the event happen.  Former Dean David Dynak shared the inspiration for this “celebration of the art that is silent film” with last year’s attendees:

“Our Denver Silent Film Festival began…over lunch conversation with Monteine Hansl (Executive Director)… and Howie Movshovitz (Artistic Director). Those two convinced me that if we were to host the (festival) in the Collegeof Arts and Media we would create an incredible cultural event for the city of Denver and for our students and I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ ”

It was an exuberant affair. As a University of Colorado Boulder alum, I was proud to be part of the inaugural audience and just as pleased to learn that it’s on again. Hoorah for Denver and the University!

'A Trip to the Moon' (1902)

This year’s program is also jam-packed.

The first feature immediately following Friday evening’s gala is William Wellman’s Wings, with a Q & A, at the film’s end, between Howie Movshovitz and the director’s son, William Wellman, Jr.

The following day, what’s sure to be another highlight: An Hour with Serge and David, features a discussion between two equally accomplished film archivists, Serge Bromberg of France’s Lobster Films (this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient) and David Shepard.   

And remember the subject of Scorsese’s award winning Hugo? George Méliès’ 1902 masterpiece, A Trip to the Moon, will be presented by Monsieur Bromberg who, in fact, helped to restore this treasure in its original hand-colored form.

Of course, a special by product of being a University co-production is participation of the College of Media and Arts’ student body. In fact, renowned composer and conductor Donald Sosin, who taught Music Master Classes at last year’s event, returns with Joanna Seaton to do the same again. Sosin will conduct the completed original score at Saturday’s screening of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

Another unique treat: A Program of New Short Silent Films by the UCD film students. How fun is that?

What better way to spread awareness and appreciation for silent film to today’s young filmmakers and musicians.

There’s much-much more, so be sure to click HERE to get the complete schedule of events, times and venues.   

I look forward to seeing you at the silent movies.

Denver Silent Film Festival in 2011

  • 1 of 8

    DSFF the first year

    David Shepard, with Alexander Payne, moments after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oscar winning director.
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    DSFF the first year

    David Dynak, former Dean of UC-Denver's College of Arts & Media during opening remarks at the 2011 DSFF. Rocky Mountain PBS' Director of Communications Elizabeth Mayer and a signer from the Professional Sign Language Institute share the platform.
  • 3 of 8

    DSFF the first year

    The ambiance of a 1920's Speakeasy was created for the 2011 opening Gala. Guests were greeted by 'Flapper Girls' Dal Bradley, Joan MacDonald, and Valerie Switzer.
  • 4 of 8

    DSFF the first year

    Governor Hickenlooper declared September 23-25, 2011 Denver Silent Film Festival Days. The proclamation was presented by Colorado's Director of Boards & Commissions, Romaine Pacheco. Here she is (L) with festival Executive Director Montine Hansl.
  • 5 of 8

    DSFF the first year

    Another 'Flapper Girl' - Mary Peterson is pretty in pink!
  • 6 of 8

    DSFF the first year

    Tom Baker, Anne Smatla, (DSFF Managing Director), and Michael Mages embrace the prohibition-era theme of the day! The French 75 cocktail and Batch 19 beer were recreated for the event.
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    DSFF the first year

    Colorful characters mingled with the crowd. Here we have Rylan Rafferty as Mary Pickford and Harry Christman as The Kid.
  • 8 of 8

    DSFF the first year

    What is a silent film fest without the appearance of the one and only? Jamie Opris was Charlie Chaplin.
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2 Comments

  • Susan | September 18, 2012 10:18 AMReply

    So close and yet so far. . . I'm in Kansas, but due to work schedules, I can't attend. Recently I attended a showing here in Wichita of the restored "Trip to the Moon" with the Melies documentary and it was great! Well worth seeing if only to think about how far cinema has come in a little over 100 years.

    Well, maybe next year . . .

  • Norm | September 18, 2012 12:53 AMReply

    Melies' alone is worth the price of admission, but that is just me...Somehow a"Trip to the Moon" under Colorado skies is the perfect fit, unless maybe "Invaders from Mars." the original...

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