This week is graced by the 26th annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival, the largest event in America dedicated to that long-vanished but much-beloved art form. On Friday the NFPF will join the festival in presenting “Amazing Tales from the Archives,” wherein archivists from various countries present field reports on new and exciting preservation projects.
This year there are three presentations: Georges Mourier from the Cinémathèque Française will give news on the archive’s six-and-a-half-hour restoration of Abel Gance’s Napoleon. From Universal Pictures, Peter Schade and Emily Wensel will report on the studio’s new silent film preservation project, which has made possible the festival screening of The Last Warning, a murder mystery from 1929. Bryony Dixon, senior curator of silent film for the British Film Institute, will present information on projects by the BFI’s National Archive. The event is free, but donations are welcome and will support the festival’s Film Preservation Fund.
That fund has helped make possible several restorations playing at the Festival, including two classic comedies by René Clair—The Italian Straw Hat (1928) and Les Deux Timides (1928)—the early feminist feature Mothers of Men: Every Woman’s Problem (1917) (preserved in collaboration with the BFI), and the strange submarine thriller Behind the Door (1919), which has been reconstructed from material held by the Library of Congress and Gosfilmofond of Russia.
Festival-goers should also look out for Fantasia of Color in Early Cinema, a program of shorts dating from 1897 to 1915 that demonstrate beautiful examples of hand painting, dyeing, and stencil coloring. The films are from our friends at the EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, with whom we’ve partnered to preserve more than 50 American films that they have safeguarded. Tickets for the festival can be bought here.