Festival offers many silent films this weekend

At 7 p.m.  Feb. 22 will mark the beginning of the Kansas Silent Film Festival, at White Concert Hall.

“It’s a collection of silent films ran very much like they did in the old days, complete with pianist accompaniment,” said Bill Schaffer, director of the Silent Film Festival.

The event will continue again at 10 a.m. Saturday and run all day.  The festival will be featuring many genres and themes over the course of two days.

Friday evening’s theme will be shorts and a feature film starring Mary Pickford and her husband Douglas Fairbanks, who Shaffer described as “the first major superstar couple of Hollywood.” The films include the shorts “Galloping Bungalows,” “Fatty” and “Mabel Adrift,” and the feature film “Sparrows.”

The featured theme for Saturday morning will be prehistoric comedies from producer Mark Sennet. The films feature comic personalities of the teens and twenties, including Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and Buster Keaton in prehistoric times. The two shorts that will be shown for this theme are “His Prehistoric Past” and “Flying Elephants,” while the feature will be “Three Ages.”

After a brief lunch break, the festival will continue with solid Westerns, including three shorts and two features. The shorts will include “Brocho Billy’s Adventure” starring ‘Brocho Billy’ Anderson. Another short is “Broken Ways” and “The Man with the Punch” which features Hoot Gibson. The feature films will be “The Narrow Trail” starring William S. Hart and Hands Up! featuring Raymond Griffith.

At 5:15 p.m., the festival will break for a dinner at the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center before returning to White Concert Hall for the final few films. The shorts, “The Speed Kings” and “Madcap Ambrose” are comedies, while the feature film will be “The Gaucho” starring the previously mentioned Fairbanks.

“It’s a chance for classic film lovers to see a lot of great films, some rare, some not, with live accompaniment,” said Denise Morrison, a film historian and host of the festival, who will introduce the films.

Mark Sennet historian Paul Gierucki, and his producing partner Brittany Valente will also be introducing some of the Sennett films that will be shown during the festival. Gierucki will also speak about his restoration of the films of Mack Sennett for DVD release during the Saturday night Cinema Dinner.

There will be a few vendors at the event, all of which relate to silent film. DVDs and CDs from the musicians providing the  accompaniment will be available. The event will also be host to the selling of what Morrison described as “a discrete collection of used film books from a personal collection–many of these books are hard to come by and out of print film history books.”

There will also be unique jewelry from an artist in Canada who takes images of silent film stars and works them into necklaces and pins. Each of these vendors will be giving the film festival a cut of their profits. There will be t-shirts and a festival poster for sale. The profits of these items go directly back into the film festival towards next year’s budget.

The Kansas Film Festival is a free event that is open to the public. For more information about the festival, visit www.kssilentfilmfest.org.