The 2015 San Francisco Silent Film Festival’s (SFSFF) wrapped up this year with an unprecedented 6 days of wonderful silent films, beginning with “All Quiet on the Western Front 1930” and ending with “Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925).” The intervening days included such films as “The Last Laugh (1924),” “Speedy (1928),” and “Why be Good (1929).”
The festival offers something for everyone and always gives the audience a unique opportunity to see something that hasn’t been seen many decades. The gem that everyone talked about this years was “Sherlock Holmes (1916),” a recent discovery that featured noted American Holmes actor William Gillette. Every year, certain SFSFF showings create a buzz and attract a big crowd, and this one brought in a full house to the Castro Theater. As the one film everyone waited for, it did not disappoint. I’ve been attending the festival for many years now and I’ve seen the crowd shift to a younger demographic. A good experience brings back fans year after year.
I heard some of the attendees saying they would get festival passes next year. I recommend this because after one sees a variety of silent films — comedies, tragedies, science fiction, drama, etc. — the true artistry of these wonderful films becomes clear. One can’t compare a silent film to a sound film; it’s like comparing sculpture to painting. Additionally, the Castro Theater, a venue built in the silent film era (1925), gives the audience an opportunity to see the films as they were meant to be seen.