Sound on Silents: The Toronto Silent Film Festival Opens April 4th

During just a few short decades, silent film directors, actors and cinematographers developed an entirely new and unprecedentedly lyrical approach to dramatic storytelling. Unhindered by the compulsion to speak and emboldened by the libidinous lens of the camera, these movies brought audiences face to face with the core aspects of human personality in a way that was somehow both “bigger” than life and oddly, hauntingly, subjective and intimate. Fear, adoration, unbridled hilarity and crushing, inconsolable sadness all flashed their naked visages across the “silent” screen, aided and abetted by live music to complete the revelatory effect (no cinemagoer of the pre-“talkie” era would have called these movies “silents”).

This year’s Toronto Silent Film Festival lineup boasts a truly impressive array of movies from the art form’s golden age of the mid-to-late 1920s (a period that edged into the 1930s in many places around the world). Vidor, Dreyer, Falconetti, Keaton, Ozu – these are names to conjure with. Of course, any decently knowledgeable cinéaste can assemble a nice suite of repertory favourites. The truly exciting thing about the TSFF is its ambition to place these great films within their proper context for the modern viewer – by bolstering the screenings with lectures, suitably expressive musical accompaniment  and even by booking showings at historically relevant venues like the Fox Theatre.

Sound on Sight will be covering every item on the  six-day schedule – which kicks off Thursday night with Carl Theodore Dreyer’s masterful La passion de Jeanne D’Arc – and we hope you’ll join us.

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