Bought my tickets…

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… which means I am indeed going to Pordenone, Italy for Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, the 32nd Pordenone Silent Film Festival, who are showing NATAN, the film Paul Duane & I made. NATAN is a talking picture, a documentary about a filmmaker mainly associated with talking pictures, but it does deal with Natan’s production LA MERVEILLEUSE VIE DE JEAN D’ARC, and it features Lenny Borger and Serge Bromberg, two experts on silent cinema who are Pordenone regulars, so they’re stretching a point and including us.

It’s also nice because the festival director, critic and Chaplin biographer David Robinson, used to program Edinburgh International Film Festival, so maybe I can interview him and resume my series The Edinburgh Dialogues.

And of course the movies are an exciting lot — Louise Brooks in William Wellman’s BEGGARS OF LIFE, Harold Lloyd in THE FRESHMAN with musical accompaniment by Carl Davis, seasons on Anny Ondra, Swedish movies, silent animation, and very excitingly indeed, the premiere of Orson Welles’ TOO MUCH JOHNSON.

I leave Tuesday.


The following week on Wednesday, the day after I get back, I’m off to Lyon for NATAN’s first French date, at the Lumiere Film Festival in Lyon. Lyon actually appears in the film, in a newsreel where we see Natan preparing the opening of a new cinema. Lyon have homages to Hal Ashby, Studio Ghibli, film noir (with special guest Peggy Cummins), and they have a programme dedicated to experimental filmmaker Germaine Dulac who briefly ran Pathe-Natan’s newsreel department, and they’re showing LE BONHEUR, a spectacular Pathe-Natan production from Marcel L’Herbier starring Charles Boyer. The film’s co-director Paul Duane and producer Paul Duane is also attending, as is one of Natan’s granddaughters, the wonderful Lenick Philippot. Should be pretty special.

It’s going to be a busy and exciting fortnight and I fully expect blog postings to be on the light side… but you never know!


10 Responses to “Bought my tickets…”

  1. L’Herbier’s Le Bonheur with Boyer is truly marvelous. Here’s another L’Herbier with Bonheur in the title — and a marvelous cast

  2. I’m hoping we can get people to see Natan and Le Bonheur as a sort of companion piece, and I’m wishing we’d included a clip from the film in ours. It was on my shortlist… but we do have a lot of footage from the making of L’Argent, to show filmmaking conditions in Natan’s studios at the time.

  3. Pordenone! And I’m not there again. Maybe I should rethink my strategy of waiting for them to rediscover Der Januskopf and show it in a Conrad Veidt retrospective.

  4. I don’t think they have ANY Veidt this year, which must be a rare occurrence. But they have newly discovered Keaton and Welles…

  5. “Newly discovered Keaton” – can you tell me more?

  6. Oh sure, you can read about it at the link. A radically different version of The Blacksmith turned up on 9.5mm in Brazil, same place where they found Metropolis. Then Serge Bromberg at Lobster looked through their prints and found the same version, slightly shorter, on 35mm. This version was apparently a first attempt which Keaton decided to withdraw and reshoot, but a dupe slipped out.

    Experts deduce that The Blacksmith we know was mainly shot months later than the newly discovered one. It’s a film I don’t like much compared to other Keatons, and the new version was apparently considered inferior by Keaton himself, but I’m inexplicably psyched to see it. Discoveries are always great!

  7. Thanks for the information. I should have looked at the link. THE BLACKSMITH isn’t one of my favourite shorts either, but any new Keaton footage is to be welcomed.

  8. It should also provide a fascinating insight into his methods, looking at what he discarded and what he replaced it with and what he kept.

  9. The Pordenone twitter feed just posted something about Richard Oswald’s Lucrezia Borgia being shown today in the “rediscoveries” program, so the festival isn’t utterly Connie-less.

  10. I *knew* there was something! And yet I did a search of the prog for Connie without success. Yes, that’s on, and I hope they show it again so I can catch it. Very handsome film.

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