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  • Writer's pictureSouth West Silents

A New Event Strand: Early Film Pioneers

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

Co-founder James Harrison explains the reasons for a new strand dedicated to a neglected part of silent film history.

When we announced the major principles of South West Silents back in 2015 our key objective was very simple; to celebrate and showcase the best of silent film. Over the past few years I think (and hope) that we have been successful on this.

However, while this can be acknowledged when it comes to fiction silent film, sadly, this does not entail non-fiction silent film. In fact, while reviewing SWS’ record of screenings for the past six years only a handful of them were in anyway connected to non-fiction.

With this in mind, I am very excited to say that South West Silents have joined forces with Bristol Ideas and The Royal Photographic Society to start a brand new strand of monthly screenings highlighting the many aspects of non-fiction titles over the course of the silent era. These screenings will take place in the 100 seat auditorium found at the new headquarters of The Royal Photographic Society in Bristol. The perfect place to host such events!

When possible these screenings will be accompanied with live music and introduced by a guest speaker who would be able to put into context the many subjects which non-fiction silent film covers.

To see the real world in films was a pleasurable thrill for cinema audiences at the beginning of the twentieth century, and as a result, the production of non-fiction films reached an all-time high, both in terms of quality and quantity. So expect titles from around the world from travelogues, newsreels, expedition films, living portraits, city films and much more!

Our first event for this new strand will be Early Film Pioneers: Charles Urban: Kinemacolor, Thursday, 23 September 2021: 1900-2100 (doors open from 1830). A programme of early film shorts produced by Charles Urban featuring live musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne and a special recorded introduction by film historian and Urban’s biographer Luke McKernan.

A massive thank you to our good friends at Bristol Ideas and The Royal Photographic Society. This strand now join SWS’ other big event strands including, 100 Years of Silent Film, The City and Silent Film and Silent Women Film Pioneers which can be found on the events page.

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