Pordenone, Italy — I am on the ground in Pordenone for the 31st Pordenone Silent Film Festival. The wonderful program this year concentrates on Charles Dickens stories, Anna Sten, and the films of the Selig Polyscope Company. I have already seen a gem of a film called “Girl With the Hatbox,” which Sten made in 1927 with Director Boris Barnet. It’s a very funny Soviet-style screwball romatic comedy. The festival also showed several versions of Dickens’ “Oliver Twist,” including one from Hungary. The best silent Oliver Twist, from 1922, stars Jackie Coogan and Lon Chaney, who plays Fagin.
Festivals can be very exhausting, and this one goes on non-stop from 9:00 AM to midnight for an entire week. Most of the films come from the silent era, but the festival also screened a wonderful short film made by Renée George this year called “Le Petit Nuage” — about a couple that meet and fall in love in a Paris cafe. It’s a silent short with an impressive score. Ms. George worked on “The Artist” in Los Angeles, and she told me she wanted to make a silent film of her own. I enjoyed the film and I’m happy that the Pordenone festival put it in the program.