2014 San Francisco Silent Film Festival

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival (SFSFF) opens Thursday, May 29 at 7 PM with a screening of “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” the star-making film of Rudolph Valentino. The exciting 4 days of the festival, held at the Castro theater in San Francisco, include showings of some wonderful silent films from around the world, including “The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks,” a Soviet film from 1924. Every year, the festival presents an amazing roster of films from around the world. The films screening at the festival, which runs from Thursday, May 29 to Sunday, June 1, include 17 features from 8 countries — USA (6), China (1), Denmark (1), Soviet Union (2), Great Britain (3), Germany (2), Japan (1) and Sweden (1).

A scene from "Harbor Drift," a 1929 German film showing at the 2014 San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

A scene from “Harbor Drift,” a 1929 German film showing at the 2014 San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

I first attended the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in 2007 when I went to see Ernst Lubitsch’s “The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927).” Since then, I’ve attended every SFSFF event, including their showing in 2012 of Abel Gance’s “Napoleon (1927)” at the beautiful Paramount Theater in Oakland, California. I met film experts Robert Osborne, Leonard Maltin, and Buster Keaton’s granddaughter introduced herself to me just before she went on stage to reminisce about her grandfather. The festival’s excellent musical performers this year include The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, the Matti Bye Ensemble, Stephen Horne and Donald Sosin.

Cinema historian and currator Craig Baldwin will be on hand to present the showing of the 1935 Soviet film “Cosmic Voyage” on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 10 PM. The festival adds an event this year with a performance and talk by Matti Bye, Kristian Holmgren, and Leo Svensson of the Matti Bye Ensemble at the Salle Piano in San Francisco on Tuesday, May 27 at 7 PM. They’ll talk about what goes into creating music for motion pictures.

Anyone interested in seeing great international silent films should run to the festival this year! SFSFF promises a rewarding time.

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