The 29th edition of Cinefest, which runs from Thursday, March 19 through Sunday, March 22, 2009, in Syracuse's suburb of Liverpool, NY, will once again showcase an array of silent and sound shorts and features for those interested in discovering long-forgotten gems that more frequently than you'd expect turn out to be more enjoyable than much of what's being made today. (Above, top photo,Gary Cooper and Nancy Carroll in The Shopworn Angel; lower photo, Elissa Landi and Cary Grant in Enter Madame.)
Other Cinefest 2009 highlights include an auction, a special 35mm show at Eastwood's Palace Theater, film-related dealer rooms, and appearances by film historians, among them Leonard Maltin. Silent films will include live piano accompaniment provided by Philip C. Carli, Makia Matsumura, and Donald Sosin.
And it's worth noting that many of Cinefest's films are one-of-a-kind prints that haven't been publicly seen in decades – and that may remain unseen for decades to come. In other words: this may be your one chance to discover cinematic treasures long hidden in vaults.
Among Cinefest 2009's nearly thirty feature films already scheduled are:
- Special 35mm-print presentations of The Shopworn Angel (1928), a romantic melodrama starring a very young Gary Cooper and pert Nancy Carroll, both on their way to becoming two of Paramount's biggest stars; Twenty Dollars a Week (1924), with future Oscar winners George Arliss and Ronald Colman; and Michael Curtiz's A Million Bid (1927), with Dolores Costello (Drew Barrymore's lovely grandmother), Malcolm McGregor, Betty Blythe (who caused a sensation in 1921 in The Queen of Sheba), and Warner Oland, the Swedish actor best known for playing the Chinese villain Fu Manchu and the Chinese hero Charlie Chan.
- The Universal musical-comedy The Boys from Syracuse (1940), from the Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart stage hit, with Allan Jones, Irene Hervey, Martha Raye, and Joe Penner. The Boys from Syracuse, by the way, had its world premiere in (where else?) Syracuse on July 18, 1940, where the film opened simultaneously at three downtown movie theaters.
- Courtesy of Rochester's George Eastman House, Cinefest audiences will be able to catch a glimpse of Joan Crawford's private life by way of personal home movies shot in the 1940s, in which the superstar can be seen strutting her stuff on the set and at home.
- Also: Enter Madame (1934) with Cary Grant and Elissa Landi; The Desert Song (1929), an early musical starring John Boles and Carlotta King (and with Myrna Loy in a small role); the pre-Coder Safety in Numbers (1930, see suggestive photo above) with Carole Lombard and Charles Buddy Rogers; and The Perfect Specimen (1937) with Errol Flynn and Joan Blondell.
- And more: King Vidor's Love Never Dies (1921), with Madge Bellamy and Lloyd Hughes (a handsome, likable performer who should have been a much bigger star); Paddy the Next Best Thing (1933), with box office sensation Janet Gaynor (right) and Warner Baxter; the 1916 Mary Pickford vehicle Less Than Dust; and the classic White Gold (1927), starring the exotic Jetta Goudal (who pretended to be French though she was actually Dutch and Jewish – and who threatened to sue Volkswagen for naming one of their vehicles “Jetta”).
- And still more: The Lady Who Dared (1931), one of Bilie Dove's few important roles in talking pictures; They Shall Pay (1921), with Mary Pickford's little-known sister Lottie Pickford; Beggar on Horseback (1925), starring Edward Everett Horton, Betty Compson, and Esther Ralston; and the only one of those films that I've seen, Back Pay (1922), Frank Borzage's surprisingly effective melodrama about traditional values vs. the modern world, with Seena Owen doing excellent work as a small-town girl who must choose between True Love and big-city hues.
Note: All titles are subject to change.
Cinefest will also include a Saturday afternoon appearance by author and film historian Norman O. Keim, who will be signing copies of his book Our Movie Houses: A History of Film & Cinematic Innovation in Central New York from 4-5 pm.
Now, about the musical accompanists, by way of the Cinefest press release:
“In addition to his annual Cinefest appearance, Dr. Philip C. Carli is famous for his annual performances at the British Silent Cinema Festival in Nottingham, England and the Giornate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone, Italy, the Vintage Film Festival in Cobourg, Canada and various American film festivals. Dr. Carli is also collaborating with the Museum of Modern Art on a film series tied to their exhibition of classic film poster art.
“Makia Matsumura is a graduate of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and The Juilliard School, as well as being an accomplished composer. She has performed with the Hungary National Symphony, the Berlin Great Radio Orchestra and the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. Her live piano accompaniment for silent films has been performed and enjoyed at various screening venues throughout the U.S. and Japan.
“This year marks Donald Sosin's first appearance at Cinefest. Considered to be one of the world's foremost silent film musicians, he has won praise from scholars and fans alike worldwide for his inventive and stylish compositions and musical improvisations. Mr. Sosin appears regularly at major film festivals in New York, Seattle, San Francisco and other cities, as well as performing annually at the Giornate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone, Italy. He is the resident pianist for the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Moving Image, and has appeared at many other film repertory houses and archives including Harvard Film Archives, the National Gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Berlin Filmmuseum and many other venues.”
The registration fee for all four days is $70.00 or a daily charge of $25.00. The fee includes admission to the hotel's film screenings and the memorabilia dealers' rooms. Film showings begin at 9:00 am on Thursday and run through 5:00 pm on Sunday.
Separate admission for the 35mm program is $25.00 and includes bus transportation from the hotel to the Palace Theater and back to the hotel at the conclusion of the 35mm program.
The motion picture related memorabilia dealers' rooms will be open to the general public on Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. Photographs, posters, DVDs and videos, books and miscellaneous movie related items will be on sale. Admission to the dealers' rooms on Saturday is $5.00 and may be credited toward a full day's Cinefest admission.
Established by the late Phil Serling in 1980 and presented by the Syracuse Cinephile Society, Cinefest will be held at the Holiday Inn on Electronics Parkway in Liverpool, NY. For more information, please contact Gerry Orlando at (315) 468-6147 before Wednesday, March 18.