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Silent Cinema Celebration

An exhibition of silent films highlighting women, people of color, and explorations through the history of silent film.

Tuesday May 25 – Friday June 11
Peripheral Perspectives — Silent Social Discourse

  • La Souriante Madame Beudet (1922) Directed by Germaine Dulac (36 min)
    • Directed by French avant-garde filmmaker, film theorist, journalist and critic, Germaine Dulac, this film is considered by many to be one of the first truly “feminist” films. Dulac wrote as the drama critic for the feminist magazine, La Française, and worked on the editorial staff of the radical feminist journal, La Fronde.
  • Within Our Gates (1919) Directed by Oscar Micheaux (1h 17 min)
    • Produced, written, and directed by self-taught filmmaker Oscar Devereaux Micheaux, Within Our Gates is the oldest known surviving film made by an African-American director. Within Our Gates has often been considered by critics to  be a response to D.W. Griffith’s inflammatory white supremacist film, Birth of a Nation.
  • Spring Silkworms (1933) Directed by Cheng Bugao (1h 34 min)
    • Directed by Cheng Bugao, Spring Silkworms is considered one of the earliest films of the Leftist movement in 1930s Shanghai. The film was adapted from the novella of the same title by Mao Dun and produced by Mingxing Film Company, the leading film studio in China at the time. 

Tuesday June 15 – Friday July 2
Silence of the Lens — Shivers from the Early Days of Horror

  • Frankenstein (1910) Directed by J. Searle Dawley (16 min)
    • Frankenstein is a 1910 American short silent horror film produced by Edison Studios, an American film production organization owned by Thomas Edison. The film was directed by James Searle Dawley who also wrote the screenplay based on Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, Frankenstein. It is generally recognized by film historians to be the first screen adaptation of Shelley’s work.
  • Nosferatu (1922) Directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (1h 34min)
    • Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, is a 1922 German Expressionist silent horror film. Directed by Friedrich W. Murnau, the film was produced as an unauthorized and unofficial adaptation of Bram Stoker’s famous 1897 novel, Dracula. Despite the alteration of many names and details from Stoker’s story, his heirs sued and a court ordered all copies of the film to be destroyed. Miraculously, a few prints of the film survived.
  • House of Ghosts (1908) Directed by Seguno de Chomón (6 min)
    • Seguno De Chomón began his career in film through his wife, Julienne Mathieu, a French silent film actress for Pathé films. He has often been compared to French filmmaker Georges Méliès due to his use of camera tricks and optical illusions. House of Ghosts features an impressive scene of stop-motion animation. The short film is also considered to be one of the earliest cinematic depictions of the concept of a haunted house.

Tuesday July 6 – Friday July 23
Acting in Avant-Garde — Emergence of New Art Forms

  • Entr’acte (1924) Directed by René Clair (22 min)
    • Entr’acte is a 1924 French short film directed by French filmmaker and writer René Clair. The film premiered as an “entr’acte” (meaning, “between the acts”) for the Ballet Suédois production Relâche at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. Music for both the ballet and the film was composed by Erik Satie.
  • Anémic Cinema (1926) Directed by Marcel Duchamp (7 min)
    • Anémic Cinéma is a Dada/ Surrealist experimental film made by Rrose Sélavy (the alter ego of French artist Marcel Duchamp) in collaboration with French artist Man Ray and French screenwriter, photographer and director Marc Allégret in 1926. To make the film, Duchamp filmed the painted designs made on flat cardboard while they spun on a phonograph turntable.
  • La Coquille et le Clergyman (1928) Directed by Germaine Dulac (28 min)
    • La coquille et le clergyman (or, The Seashell and the Clergyman) is an experimental French film directed by French avant-garde filmmaker, film theorist, journalist, and critic Germaine Dulac. The film was made after an original scenario by Antonin Artaud that follows the erotic hallucinations of a priest lusting after the wife of a general.
  • The Big Swallow (1901) Directed by James Williamson (1 min 8s)
    • The Big Swallow is a 1901 British short silent comedy film directed by James Williamson, a Scottish photographer and key member of a loosely associated group of pioneering filmmakers known as the Brighton School. Despite being just over one minute in length, the three-shot trick film is considered one of the most important early British films in that it was one of the first to deliberately exploit the difference between the eye of the camera and of the audience watching the final film. 

Tuesday July 27 – Friday August 13
Life Through the Lens — The Dawn of Documentary Film

  • Nanook of the North (1922) Directed by Robert J. Flaherty (1h 32min)
    • Nanook of the North is a 1922 American silent film written and directed by Robert J. Flaherty. The film combines elements of documentary and docudrama at a time when the concept of separating films into documentary and drama did not yet exist. This is now known as salvage ethnography.
  • Man with a Movie Camera (1929) Directed by Dziga Vertov (1h 8min)
    • Directed by documentary film pioneer Dziga Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera is an experimental 1929 Soviet Ukranian silent documentary film. Edited by his wife, Yelizaveta Svilova, the film presents urban life in Ukrainian cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Odessa during the beginning of Soviet rule. The film is famous for the range of various cinematic techniques invented, employed, or developed by Vertov including fast and slow motion, multiple exposures, freeze frames, jump cuts, split screens, Dutch angles, tracking shots, and extreme close-ups. 
  • Scenes from South (1919) Directed by Frank Hurley (9min 22s)
    • Captured by Australian photographer, Frank Hurley, South follows the true story of 28 men led by captain Sir Ernest Shackleton who set out to explore Antarctica on the Endurance during the failed Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition from 1914 to 1917. 
  • Scenes of Daily Life (1895-1900) Directed by the Lumière Brothers
    • French brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière are best known for their Cinématographe, a camera that could record, develop, and project film. The pair gave their first paid public screening on December 28, 1895 at Salon Indien du Grand Café in Paris that consisted of 10 short films, lasting 50 seconds each. Shortly after their public premiere, Louis remarked, “Cinema is an invention without a future.” 

Tuesday August 17 – Friday August 27
Silent Slapstick — Don’t Tell the Joke, Show It!

  • Cops (1922) Directed by Buster Keaton and Edward F. Cline (18min)
    • Cops is an American silent comedy film written and directed by Buster Keaton and Edward F. Cline. Cops is considered one of Keaton’s “most iconic and brilliantly-constructed short films” and was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry in 1997. 
  • Safety Last! (1923) Directed by Fred C. Newmayer and Sam Taylor (1h 22min)
    • Directed by Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor, Safety Last! is an American silent romantic comedy film starring Harold Lloyd. The highly successful film includes one of the most iconic images from the silent film era: Lloyd dangling from the hands of a large clock on the side of a skyscraper above the moving traffic below. 
  • One Week (1920) Directed by Buster Keaton and Edward F. Cline (19min)
    • One Week is an American silent comedy film starring Buster Keaton and Sybil Seeley and is the first independent film production Keaton released on his own. The film was written and directed by both Keaton and American screenwriter, actor, writer, and director Edward F. Cline. One Week parodies a short film produced by Ford Motor Company in 1919 to promote prefabricated housing. The title is a play on a notorious 1907 sex novel, Three Weeks, by Elinor Glyn. 
  • The Count (1916) Directed by Charlie Chaplin (34min)
    • Written and directed by Charlie Chaplin, The Count is a short film that features Chaplin’s most memorable recurring character, The Tramp. Created by accident, The Tramp is a bumbling but good-hearted man of lower-class who wishes to portray himself with the dignity and manners of a gentleman despite his actual social status. The Count was Chaplin’s fifth film for the early film conglomerate Mutual Film Corporation.