Celebrating it’s 17th year, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival returns to the Castro Theatre July 12-15.
I’m guessing this is the only Film Festival to have it’s opening reception in a mattress factory. For real. Founded in 1899, the historic McRoskey Mattress Company opens it’s fab loft space on Market Street Thursday, July 12, at 9:30PM. Trust me, it’s worth going just to check the place out. The first thing you will see is the giant floor-to-ceiling windows. I swear, Market Street starts to look like 19th century Paris if you squint real hard. Yes, there’s a mattress. Yes, there will be many photo-ops. But I digress.


Built in 1922, the Castro Theatre is the perfect venue for silent films. And what would a silent film be without live music? Behold the Castro’s Mighty Wurlitzer rising from the orchestra pit to reveal an actual human playing your favorite hits from last century. In fact, all seventeen SFSFF programs have live musical accompaniment. This experience cannot be duplicated by a DVD and your home stereo. Be there.

Wings, the film, not the band, was the first silent film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture in 1928.
The cast includes Clara Bow, Buddy Rogers, and Gary Cooper. We’re talking action, adventure, romance, artillery, special effects, and aerial photography. Props to Paramount Pictures for Wing’s restoration to it’s original tinting.
Playing screen side will be Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra with Foley sound effects by Ben Burtt.

No woman’s cultural education can be complete without a viewing of Man Trap. Ooh, it’s playing on Friday the 13th. Beware country bumpkin, the big city girl is in town lookin to get herself a man. Clara Bow plays Alverna, the manicurist from Minneapolis with all the right comedic notes.
Man Trap is accompanied by Stephen Horne on the grand piano.

FELIX THE CAT: Bring your kids or your friend’s kids to this Saturday morning screening. Irrepressible Felix the Cat! treats us to 70 minutes of rare silent Felix the Cat cartoons from 1925-1929. Titles include Felix the Cat in Blunderland, Felix the Cat Weathers the Weather, Felix Loses Out, Jungle Bungles, Felix Gets Revenge, Eskimotive, and Felix Flirts with Fate.
The all-women Toychestra and pianist Donald Sosin created and performs the score.

Pandora’s Box is the ultimate German Expressionist film and usually listed as one of the finest films of all time. Everyone’s sweetheart Louise Brooks plays the delightfully disturbing amoral temptress of both men and women. Come see why she has been called the ultimate femme fatale.
Musical accompaniment by the Matti Bye Ensemble.

Poll your friends. Someone certainly had a Zorro costume for Halloween. It’s no wonder this swashbuckler is in perpetual re-make mode. Who wouldn’t want to be Douglas Fairbanks fighting evildoers and rescuing damsels in distress with his trusty sword? Plus he gets to make that cool “Z” slash all over the place. No pedestrian spray paint can for this granddaddy of all taggers.
Accompanied by the Castro Theatre’s own Dennis James on the Mighty Wurlitzer.

Buster Keaton wraps up the festival with his classic comedy about the movie business. Keaton plays a sidewalk portrait photographer trying to get his break on the big screen and of course win the girl. Lots of crazy physical stunts and his own comedic brand of roSmance.
The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra plays the score.

More information is available on the SFSFF17 website.