Yorkshire Silent Film Festival, 8–27 May 2018, from £8.50 - Visit now
Yorkshire Silent Film Festival’s dedication to the ideal that silent movies should be shown, as originally intended, with live musical accompaniment is commendable. What’s extraordinary though, is the fact that they have put together a vast and varied programme spread over multiple cities and they haven’t budged on that ideal one bit. The third iteration of the festival is set to run from 8th-27th May and each of the forty scheduled events will feature live musical performance from some of the world’s leading silent film musicians.
For their opening night at City Varieties Leeds, the festival have teamed up with comedian Paul Merton of Have I Got News for You Fame who will present an night of slapstick comedy films featuring Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. Merton, who has demonstrated a deep understanding of the gags, gestures and mechanics of silent comedy in his work, will team up with lauded silent pianist Neil Brand (himself no stranger to television screens) for the Victorian-era music hall for a evening he’s promised will be “a comic cavalcade of fantastic fun and laughter.”
In Sheffield, look out for the “Big Weekend” starting on Friday 11th May. Spread over Showroom and the stunning Abbeydale Picture House, highlights include the world premiere of Neil Brand’s new orchestral score to the 1922 silent film version of Oliver Twist, a Laurel and Hardy play-along workshop for budding musicians, classic New York Harold Lloyd comedy Speedy and Tod Browning’s twisted, grisly melodrama The Unknown starring Joan Crawford and Lon Chaney. Meanwhile, the recently restored Indian epic Shiraz will also screen with an improvised score from rising star of classical and contemporary music, Utsav Lal.
In Leeds, Hyde Park Picture House host an all-day event set to feature The Unknown, a Laurel and Hardy triple bill and Danish screen diva Asta Nielsen as a female Hamlet on Sunday 20th May. Whilst in York, Yorkshire Silent Film Festival provides an opportunity to catch one of the greatest films ever made in the form of FW Murnau’s spellbinding romance Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans which screens with a live harp score by Elizabeth-Jane Baldry at National Centre for Early Music on May 13th.
There’s plenty more going on across the whole of Yorkshire, but it’d be remiss not to mention the festival’s crowning glory: a finale screening of Andy Warhol’s Empire accompanied by a newly composed music by Monty Adkins at Abbeydale Picture House. This super rare durational work consists of a single stationary shot of the Empire State Building filmed from 8:06 p.m. to2:42 a.m., July 25–26, 1964. Warhol himself stated that you should watch Empire “to see time go by” and this is the first ever opportunity to do so in the UK, courtesy of a 16mm print acquired by arrangement with the Museum of Modern Art, New York.