More than slapstick

We know you're on guard against hammy, dated slapstick. But this isn't that. Well, it is a little. But it's not only that. Or, it's that, but better than you think. We're pretty sure even a glimpse of the elegant little gag staged by Buster Keaton at the crest of Pacific Heights early on in 1924's The Navigator will completely disarm you. And of course there's much more to the 19th San Francisco Silent Film Festival than the brilliance of Buster Keaton. For instance, there's the brilliance of other cinema icons too. You may be delighted to discover that Danish master Carl Theodor Dreyer, usually remembered for his influential austerity and metaphysical heft, also made an exalted comic melodrama, The Parson's Widow, in 1920. You may be surprised by the nuanced social sensitivity of films like Song of the Fishermen, a 1934 silent drama from China, and Under the Lantern, from Germany in 1928. With live musical accompaniment for every movie in the bunch, this year's SFSFF offerings range from the altogether down-to-earth (or even lower, in the case of the London-subway-set Underground) to the absolutely out-there, like Cosmic Voyage, a futuristic Soviet space adventure made in 1936 but set 10 years later. The latter, a great find, gets a special introduction from local filmmaker Craig Baldwin of Other Cinema. If he can be into it, we know you can too.

May 29-June 1, 2014

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