Electric Silents: Showcasing cinema’s best kept secrets

Harwich has been the home of the Electric Palace Cinema for almost one hundred years. Generally, its audiences are treated to the latest releases from cinema around the world. However, between the 7th and 10th May they will able to take a step back in time, and enjoy a range of silent dramas, comedies, early animations and special film presentations. The Grade II listed building’s original auditorium, hand-painted silent screen, together with authentic musical accompaniments and exciting atmosphere, will produce an illuminating festival which is best described as Live Cinema!

The period grandeur of the Electric Palace, built in 1911, is indeed the ideal setting for this unique festival which is adding a further dimension to the cultural life of the town.

Festival programmer, Carolyn-Ann Ford, who runs Film Education at the Electric Palace, and is also co-ordinating the event, commented,

“Modern audiences often associate silent cinema with the great film comedians of the day such as Buster Keaton. So, naturally, one of his most famous films ‘Steamboat Bill Jr.’ is also being shown as part of the festival. However, the festival is not about nostalgia for these films or indeed the era, but rather to provide a new experience for film-goers of all ages”

The films being shown during the festival, and the presentations, will aim to put silent cinema in its true context. The talks focus on several largely forgotten film makers: the Fairground Films of Mitchell and Kenyon; scenic photographer Cecil Hepworth, who made many of his films in a memorable pictorial style and the work of St. Albans cameraman, Arthur Melbourne Cooper, whose inspired works continue to amaze audiences. The festival will close with an overview of the era from pioneering film historian Kevin Brownlow, and the crowning glory of this very special occasion is to be a screening of F.W. Murnau’s masterwork, “Sunrise” – regarded by many as one of the most poetic and beautiful films of the 1920s.

Further information, programme, booking, and Electric Palace Cinema membership, details can be found at www.electricpalace.com

+Sue Bunting

Sat 6 Jun 2009, Sue Bunting