Eight Dickens shorts from the silent era in rare screening

Eight Dickens shorts from the silent era in rare screening

The filmmakers of the late 19th century and early 20th century were not short on material to adapt. Some of the earliest cinematic narratives featured the work of Shakespeare and Conan Doyle, but none drew the crowds quite like the stories of Charles Dickens. The silent era saw the production of about 100 films based on Dickens’ work. Eight shorts, made between 1901 and 1912 — including the earliest filmed version of A Christmas Carol…

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The three Jeans of French cinema

The three Jeans of French cinema

These leading men — Gabin, Belmondo and Trintignant — define the classics that fill out TIFF’s summer series. French cinema is no stranger to TIFF Cinematheque’s annual summer schedule, a fact that has not gone unnoticed to senior programmer James Quandt. “There’s always a new audience for these films,” he says. “There’s always a new generation of those who haven’t experienced them and some who’ve only seen them on DVD.” Kicking off Friday with a…

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Is cinema facing a digital dark age?

Is cinema facing a digital dark age?

The unexpected success of The Artist, nominated for 10 Academy Awards last week, would have one believe that a silent cinema renaissance is under way. It ain’t necessarily so, says George Eastman House Motion Picture curator Paolo Cherchi Usai. Instead, the applause for The Artist signals the eventual museumification of the original cinematic experience. That experience — millions of images on 35-millimetre film flickering at 24 or 16 frames per second — is on its…

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Reviving the sounds of silents

Reviving the sounds of silents

Musicians breathe new life into mute movies at Toronto Silent Film Festival. The films of the silent era were a varied lot, from slapstick to melodrama, featuring high society folk, cowboys, swashbucklers, vamps, flappers and rascals. Nearly a century later, these films are anything but silent. Plenty of music, both traditional and modern, will be heard during the Toronto Silent Film Festival, which runs March 30 to April 7. The lineup — seven screenings held…

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The day Shakespeare was banned

The day Shakespeare was banned

There was a time in Ontario when film versions of Shakespeare’s greatest plays were too violent or too racy for the public good. In February 1910, one Staff Insp. Kennedy seized a print of Hamlet. The Daily Star quoted this arbiter of public morals about how how he “witnessed a moving picture show of Hamlet, written I think by Shakespeare, this week. . . .That’s all very well to say it’s a famous drama, but…

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Burlesque Festival: Less sleaze, more tease

Burlesque Festival: Less sleaze, more tease

In an era where sexual imagery is everywhere, it’s hard to believe that a woman dressed in an evening gown, teasingly eyeing her audience while slowly removing a silk glove, can still cause a stir. The Toronto Burlesque Festival, running July 21 to 25 at the Gladstone Hotel, aims to prove that less is still more. An amalgam of inventive striptease, variety acts and live music, the festival aims to blend the old and the…

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Festival celebrates lost art of silent films

Festival celebrates lost art of silent films

In the early days of movie-going, when silent films reigned supreme, there were no snack bars, reclining seats, or disclaimers discouraging cellphone use (although friendly title-cards kindly asked ladies to remove their hats); coming attractions were projected on glass slides and hand-painted posters graced sandwich boards placed outside the street-front cinemas. When talkies arrived in Toronto in late 1928, silent films disappeared, replaced by the chatter of jazz-babies and tough-talking heavies as theatres were quickly…

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