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Press Release: October 21, 2009

San Francisco Silent Film Festival announces 2009 Winter Event Schedule!

San Francisco, October 21, 2009

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival is pleased to announce its 2009 Winter Event to take place on Saturday, December 12 at San Francisco’s landmark movie palace, the Castro Theatre (429 Castro Street, San Francisco CA 94114). Tickets and additional information are available at

This special presentation celebrates the scope and splendor of the silent era with four programs featuring live musical accompaniment, including the U.S. premiere of the superb restoration of Abel Gance’s groundbreaking J’Accuse (1919).


11:30 AM

Cast: Kru, Chantui, Nah, Ladah, Bimbo
Produced and Directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, USA, 1927
35mm print from Milestone Film & Video. Approximately 68 minutes

Shot entirely in Siam (present-day Thailand), Schoedsack and Cooper’s thrilling adventure is clearly the prototype for their later masterpiece King Kong—and a spellbinding success in its own right. The publicity of the time touted a cast of 500 native hunters, 400 elephants, tigers, leopards, pythons, and other denizens of the wild! Chang is a simple story of one family’s survival on their small farm on the edge of the jungle—a way of life that often pits them against forces of nature. The film was nominated (along with Murnau’s Sunrise and Vidor’s The Crowd) for “Artistic Quality of Production” at the first ever Academy Awards.

Donald Sosin will accompany Chang on the piano with an original score.

2:00 PM
U.S. Premiere!

Cast: Romauld Joubé, Séverin-Mars, Maryse Dauvray, Maxime Dejardins
Directed by Abel Gance, France, 1919
35mm Print from Netherlands Filmmuseum. Approximately 162 minutes

Abel Gance’s brilliant pacifist epic is set against the backdrop of the Great War, delineating the tragedy of that war’s waste and carnage. Gance returned to active service in 1918 to film actual battle scenes and his expressionistic camerawork and rapid-cut editing are revolutionary, but the heart and soul of J’accuse is the romantic triangle between poet Jean Diaz (Joubé), his beloved Edith (Dauvray), and her husband François Laurin (Séverin-Mars). Though a huge hit in France, the film was truncated for its American release to blunt its antiwar message, and it flopped. Gance’s original cut has been long unavailable until this major restoration made possible by Lobster Films Studios and Netherlands Filmmuseum.

Robert Israel will perform his original orchestral score adapted to play on the Mighty Wurlitzer.

7:00 PM

Cast: Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire, Joe Keaton, Ward Crane
Directed by Buster Keaton, USA, 1924

35mm Print from David Shepard, courtesy of Douris UK, Ltd. Approximately 45 minutes

One of the great movies of all time about the movies—impeccably scripted, beautifully filmed, funny, moving—by one of the great geniuses of cinema, Buster Keaton. Keaton plays a cinema projectionist who dreams of being a famous detective. When he’s framed for petty theft by a rival for his sweetheart’s affection, Buster nods off on the job and his dream comes true—he projects himself onto the screen as Sherlock Jr., the world’s greatest detective who’s on the trail of the stolen watch. A brilliant meditation on the nature of the cinema, Sherlock Jr. contains some of the most astonishing effects ever put on film.

With: THE GOAT (Directed by Buster Keaton and Malcolm St. Clair, USA, 1921, 35mm Print from David Shepard, courtesy of Douris UK, Ltd. Approximately 25 minutes)

Dennis James will accompany these Keaton classics on the Mighty Wurlitzer, aided by percussionist Mark Goldstein with special sound effects.

9:15 PM

Cast: Lon Chaney, Lionel Barrymore, Mary Nolan, Warner Baxter
Directed by Tod Browning
35mm Print from Warner Bros. Approximately 65 minutes.

Like The Unknown (2008’s Directors Pick) West of Zanzibar is an inspired partnership between director Tod Browning and actor Lon Chaney. Chaney has never been more affecting than in this fever-pitched nightmare of betrayal and revenge. Moving from the vaudeville stage to the jungles of the Congo, West of Zanzibar tells its story of darkness and redemption with great skill and beauty, investing each of its desperate characters with depth and humanity.

Dennis James will accompany on the Mighty Wurlitzer.


The Silent Film Festival is a nonprofit organization promoting the artistic, cultural, and historic value of silent film.

Silent filmmakers produced masterpieces and crowd-thrilling entertainments. Remarkable for their artistry and their inestimable value as historical documents, silent films show us how our ancestors thought, spoke, dressed and lived. It is through these films that the world first came to love movies, and learned how to appreciate them as art. They have influenced every generation of filmmakers, and continue to inspire audiences nearly a century after they were made.

The 15th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival will take place July 15-18, 2010 at the Castro Theatre. Reserve the date!

Anita Monga, Artistic Director
Telephone: 510-843-4245

For information, please visit our website in early November.

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Lady of the Pavements (1929)

Lady of the Pavements (1929)