A festival of silent cinema


Interior of the Harwich Electric Palace, from http://www.electricpalace.com

News of an introductory festival of silent cinema being held 7-10 May in Harwich, Essex at the Electric Palace, one of the oldest cinemas in Britain still to be showing films, indeed with its original screen from the silent period, original projection room and ornamental frontage still intact.

A Festival of Silent Cinema
Thursday 7th May – Sunday 10th May 2009

A four day programme of silent films aiming to show exactly what these first films looked like and what the audience were seeing between 1896 and the late 1920s.

The Programme Curator is David Cleveland, founder and now retired director of the East Anglian Film Archive in Norwich. Presentations and commentary contributions will also be given by other film archivists and film historians.

Over the four day festival in May, 2009, there will be a unique opportunity to experience an array of original silent films. The programme will include many rare films; some will not have been shown since first distributed almost a century ago. The Electric Palace will be host to films typical of the period 1896 -1929: comedies, dramas, animations, features, topicals and shorts. These will have authentic accompaniment as well as specially composed music. The programme will also include live re-creations of music hall acts. which would have been common for the time. What audiences were seeing before motion pictures, will be illustrated by Magic Lantern Shows. In addition, there will be an exhibition of early cinema technology as well as a display of pre-cinema media.

Films will be shown on the Electric Palace’s Kalee 35mm projectors and, in the case of some very early films, on a specially installed Gaumont Chrono projector. All films will be projected onto the cinema’s original hand-painted screen.

The Festival will open on Thursday May 7th, with a special reception and screening of the Alfred Hitchcock film ‘The Ring’ (cert U), 1927. At its close, on Sunday 10th May, there will be a guest presentation and feature to be confirmed.

A full programme hasn’t been published as yet, but is promised soon. You can read more about the history of the Electric Palace, and other pre-1914 cinemas in Britain, here.

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