There’s No Place Like Kansas: A Silent Film Festival

There’s no place like Kansas, fans, and this week Topeka is where it’s at!

The Kansas Silent Film Festival will be taking place in the heart of the U.S. Friday, February 22nd, and Saturday, February 23rd, and this is one event you will NOT want to miss! An festival that’s been going on for over twenty years this is a well-oiled machine at this point and this glorious two days will be packed with the best in silent comedy and dramatic films! In addition, they’ll be shown with live musical accompaniment and it’s important to note that it’s FREE ADMISSION for all showings! Many films on the program this year were considered lost at one time and it will be a thrill to see them on the big screen!

The festival starts Friday evening with 1910’s Frankenstein, a 14 minute short produced by the Edison Company, followed by 1927’s Metropolis, a 148 minute long film. Frankenstein was a short considered to be lost until the mid-1970s and this is believed to be the first film version of Mary Shelley’s classic novel which is amazing! It condenses the story quite a lot “by de-emphasizing the horror aspects and playing up the psychological—yet the heart of the story is there.” The film has no credited cast but it has been determined that Augustus Phillips played Victor Frankenstein, Charles Ogle played the Monster and Mary Fuller played Elizabeth. Metropolis was a film that was initially panned by critics but its reputation has grown over the years. The Alloy Orchestra plays their live score to this film with 20 minutes of added footage that had been previously cut. The band rearranged their score for this epic and, fun fact, they performed the North American premier of this film in April 2010 at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles for the Turner Classic Film Festival to a unanimous standing ovation!

Saturday is absolutely jam-packed with gems you won’t want to miss! If you come early you’ll get to enjoy a special documentary with an overview of silent film history and how women were involved. It’s followed by the 1914 short Cruel Cruel Love with Charlie Chaplin. This short was considered lost for over 50 years until a copy was found in South America! The 1921 short Hard Luck with Buster Keaton was one of the only films considered “lost” of his career at one point and it has the ending that Keaton himself called the greatest laugh-getting scene of his career! Another highlight is 1924’s feature film Venus of the South Seas starring swimming legend Annette Kellerman. She came to Hollywood and made a few films and, unfortunately, all are now considered lost except this incomplete film. One special thing to look out for with this film is the small amount of what was called Prizma Color which was one of the earliest attempts at color film during the silent era. Other titles for Saturday include the 1908 short El Hotel Electico with Segundo de Chomón, the 1918 short The Cook with Roscoe Arbuckle and Buster Keaton, the 1920 independent Native American film The Daughter of the Dawn, the 1913 short When Lincoln Paid with Francis Ford (older brother of director John Ford) as Abraham Lincoln, the 1917 feature that was discovered in a French archive in 2002, Bucking Broadway, with Harry Carey, the 1927 short Battle of the Century with Laurel and Hardy and the 1922 feature film When Knighthood Was In Flower with Marion Davies. 

For more information about the Kansas Silent Film Festival visit www.kssilentfilmfest.org.

Photo Credit: Kansas Silent Film Festival