The Silent Movie Festival, the flagship event of the National Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute, will be held on April 4-7 at the Iluzjon cinema at 50A Narbutta Street and the FINA HQ at 3/5 Wałbrzyska Street. And this year’s star? Sherlock Holmes!
Why Sherlock? In 2009, a small but very valuable collection of film tapes containing lost films from the silent movie era were discovered in a church basement in Sosnowiec. Among them was The Hound of the Baskervilles from 1929, directed by Richard Oswald. This movie, the last silent film based on a story featuring the brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes, was restored by FINA in a partnership project with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. As a result, their collection now contains the only known surviving 35 mm print of the film. The premiere screening of this restored find will open the 16th Silent Movie Festival.
The decision to present The Hound of the Baskervilles was the starting point for a program of films from that period where the heroes are either Sherlock himself or detectives inspired by him, among them Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Berthelet from 1916 (found in 2014), with the legendary William Gillette in the title role.
Although this cinematic genre has featured before at the Silent Movie Festival, this will be the first time that they have shown adaptations of the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and these films will also be supplemented with other references to the genre, pastiches and apocrypha. Particularly noteworthy are two films in which the main characters are women: The Secret Castle from 1914 and Filibus, directed by Mario Roncoroni, from 1915, which is something of a genre hybrid – this will be the global sneak preview of a recently restored version.
Another important element of the program is a show created by Serge Bromberg in which he showcases his personal selection of films. This French champion of silent cinema, known as the ‘Indiana Jones of Lost Movies’, has for decades been bringing silent movies closer to cinema audiences, and has constantly surprised all with his innovative approach to the subject.
While the full program won’t be revealed until the day of the show, it will contain the most valuable films from the first years of the twentieth century: After the Ball (1897) and The Fireman of the Folies Bergères from 1927 featuring an uncredited Josephine Baker. Some of these films have never been shown before in Poland on the big screen in their restored versions.
Movies From 100 Years Ago
This edition of the Silent Movie Festival will also see the launch of a new permanent cycle in the repertoire of the Iluzjon cinema, entitled simply Movies From 100 Years Ago. Throughout the year, and not just on ‘special festival occasions’, the cycle will present movies considered milestones in the development of world cinema. One of these latter films is the 1919 movie which will open the cycle – Behind the Door.
A Weekend with Sherlock at Wałbrzyska 3/5
While traditionally held at the Iluzjon cinema, since the establishment of FINA The Silent Movie Festival also has at their disposal the premises of the newly-established institution. As such, this year Holmes fans are invited to 3/5 Wałbrzyska Street for a wide range of activities before screenings at Iluzjon. Together with the organizers of Sherlockon, they have prepared workshops, panels, lectures, radio plays and film screenings, which means that even the most fastidious ‘Sherlockists’ will find something of interest for them…