BSFF 2012 Closing Event: Highlights of the British Silent Film Fest
As the lights of Cambridge rose in the dusk of Sunday evening, the curtains also drew to a close on the 15th British Silent Film Festival. The close of the festival was witnessed in style from the rooftop of the Varsity hotel, which hosted the event. The weather didn’t allow the intended outdoor screening, but nonetheless the stunning view was simply the start of a fantastic two hours exploring British silent cinema. Festival organiser, accompanist and Cambridge resident Neil Brand introduced it as, ‘… an evening that I hope we can look back on and remember.’
The event was dedicated to the highlights of the previous fifteen years of the festival, celebrating the British Silent Film era – showing clips and films, with brief and intimate introductions by those involved. This was the true sense of intimate: as each film showed, there was discussion between the organisers and the audience, talking about previous screenings and memorable guests. One couldn’t help but feel fortunate to be part of such an insightful celebration, as we explored and reflected on the extraordinary range of films featured in this year’s programme.
There were amazing war scenes from the BATTLE OF LEWES, comedies with Florence Lawrence,travelogues and even just a beautiful shot of waves breaking on a shore. There were examples of experimental cinema, with scientific films of flowers opening, examples of early colour sampling within the black and white and even the animation of Len Lye. There were rare films, such as a clip from the original THE INFORMER, of which only one print exists in the world.
Surely these little-known silents, such an important part of British history, are special simply for their survival. From everyday scenes to records of great innovation, the opportunity to experience these films is exceptional. As Neil Brand said, it was an evening to remember.
- British Silent Film Festival 2012 by Rosy Hunt (Editor-in-Chief)
- The 2nd Jozi Film Festival by Mike Boyd (Editor-at-large)
- African Cinema and the London Film Festival by Mike Boyd (Editor-at-large)