Curated by Gary Meyer
May 4, 2022 (updated May 6)
As the 25th San Francisco Silent Film Festival starts Thursday, May 5 and plays for a full week, we have gathered a collection of trailers, clips, rare posters and other ephemera from many of the films showing at this year’s celebration. The Festival partners with archives around the world to restore films. At the Festival there will be restored prints (looking better than many of these excerpts) and all are accompanied by live music. Silents does not mean “Silence.” In fact the proper enjoyment of silent movies include great musical accompaniment. The Festival features both local and international musicians. Sound is so important that they bring in their own sound system and technicians as the Castro doesn’t have great acoustics (something being corrected by the new operators).
We are getting ready for an unforgettable week.
Some people will practically live at the Castro for a week but it is a good idea to get out and explore. We offer some ideas of places to see that we think will be of interest in “Film Festival Adventures Outside of the Theater.“
Opening night featured Erich von Stroheim’s Foolish Wives, playing to a packed house, enthusiastic to be back at the movies. The evening started with the SFSFF Award for commitment to the preservation and presentation of silent films to New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Board President and restoration expert Rob Byrne (far right) presents the Award to (left to right) to Dave Kehr, Ashley Swinnerton and Rajendra Roy.
Sitting in the 100-year-old the Castro, excitement was in the air and one is reminded of the importance of this venue to both the city of San Francisco and the movie world at large. It is a time to remember the exhibitor and showman Mel Novikoff who followed his Surf Theatre success with the vision and passion to return the Castro to its glory.
Festival directors Anita Monga and Stacey Wisnia with their smart team put on a great show—-with Showmanship a key element. When you walk into the theater there is a pre-show on screen with fascinating facts and stories about the movie you are about to see, supplemented with posters, photos and vintage ads–an inspiration for the collection you are about to explore. Notice how effective the lighting is as the show is about to start—the domed ceiling and side murals get a moment in the spotlight and then the theater goes dark, giving the audience a few few moments to escape the outside world and become immersed into the magic of the movies—and then the curtain dramatically opens with a perfectly projected great movie.
The Festival titles are in alphabetical order.
Baby Peggy talks about The Kid Reporter
A series of images from the shot film San Francisco: The Golden Gate City showing before Foolish Wives.
Read an excerpt from Dana Steve’s new book about Buster Keaton.