ENCINITAS — The curtain rises on the second annual Encinitas Silent Film Festival beginning Nov. 5 and continuing through Nov. 7 at the La Paloma Theatre. Celebrated composer Robert Israel will return this year to provide piano accompaniment.
The event is sponsored again by the nonprofit Encinitas Theatre Consortium and follows the success of the Mary Pickford Silent Film Festival a year ago.
“For a first-time event of a rare art form, I was surprised by the number of people who bought tickets and came to the Pickford Festival, and even more thrilled by their enjoyment,” said Judy Montague, founder of the consortium.
Montague added that she was especially gratified by the response from more youthful members of the audience.
“This is a young medium appealing to young people,” she said. “The young men who created silent films were the same type as those who created “Saturday Night Live,” YouTube and Facebook. They were these upwardly mobile, city guys and almost all of them came up in Vaudeville.”
Friday night beginning at 7 p.m. the festival will kick off with Buster Keaton in his
last independent film, “Steamboat Bill Jr.” (1928). It will be followed by Keaton’s debut film, “The Butcher Boy” (1917) which features Fatty Arbuckle and Al St. John.
Saturday’s night’s program will begin at 8 p.m. with a showing of Keaton in “Sherlock Holmes, Jr.” (1924). Two other Keaton films will follow: “Backstage” (1919) is considered one of the best Keaton-Arbuckle collaborations and “The Playhouse” (1921). Guest host will be author and film historian Brent Walker, who is considered the foremost expert on Mack Sennett, the innovator of slapstick comedy for film.
The festival will come to a conclusion at 7 p.m. on Sunday with a showing of several classic films using an actual silent film projector.
“Joe Rinaudo recreates a 1915 Saturday matinee with his vintage hand-cranked projector,” Montague said. “No one who has ever seen 35mm film run through an authentic old-time projector will forget the quality and visual appeal of this rare experience.”
The film lineup includes “Easy Street” (1917) starring Charlie Chaplin, “Barney Oldfield’s Race for a Life” (1913) also featuring Mabel Normand and Mack Sennett and “The Grocery Clerk” (1919) starring Larry Semon. “One Week” (1920) with Keaton and Sybil Seely will wrap up the festival.
As an added treat, from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturday the Encinitas Library will host Robert Israel in the Community Room for a free presentation about creating and arranging music for silent film. Israel will host a short documentary chronicling his experience scoring music for the popular Russian short, “Miss Mend.” During his career Israel has scored silent films for Warner Brothers, Sony, Walt Disney, A&E Channel, American Masters and PBS. Recently, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences named him musical director of special events.
“Last year experiencing a silent film with Robert Israel playing the piano, in a theater built in the silent era, made me understand why this medium was still relevant today,” said Jim Gilliam, arts administrator for the city of Encinitas. “I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to the November festival.”
For show information, including a synopsis of each film, or to purchase tickets, visit www.etcinfo.net. Tickets are $10.