Baby Doe at Berkeley Opera
Scenic Designer for Moby-Dick

SF Silent Film Festival 2009

Oswald * Notes * 
The 14th San Francisco Silent Film Festival happened last weekend at the Castro Theatre. I attended three of the programs: Amazing Tales from the Archives, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and La Chute de la maison Usher. The first program featured the newly-restored Screen Snapshots: 7th Series, a short film The Actor's Children (1910), a trailer for the lost film Polly of the Follies (1922), fragments from a trailer for Happiness Ahead (1928), fragments from a lost Ramon Navarro film, and the short film How the Hungry Man was Fed (1911). Anne Smatla, Joe Lindner, and Heather Olson spoke. Stephen Horne's playing was impressive, especially when he played flute and piano during the Navarro fragments.

The second program involved 8 Oswald the Lucky Rabbit shorts from 1927-1928, with Leonard Maltin and Leslie Iwerks speaking. The character is quite cheeky and Donald Sosin's sound effects were very funny. The drawing of these cartoons is charmingly energetic.

Before Epstein's La Chute de la maison Usher, they screened the Avante-garde American short The Fall of the House of Usher (1928). It was a bit difficult to follow the story line of the latter, and the words that floated on screen, such as "beat" and "crack" were pretty absurd.

Epstein's film was pretty to look at, though the house at hand seemed to be inordinately drafty. I would have preferred it if they had not had a spoken translation of the French text, which was particularly silly when the card simply read "Usher." 

* Tattling * 
The audiences were all very well-behaved and enthused, though there was some inappropriate tittering during La Chute de la maison Usher. The lines to get into the theatre were quite long, and formed well in advance of the screenings.