Leicester’s New Walk Museum is being transformed into a cinema as part of this year’s British Silent Film Festival.
Classics from Laurel and Hardy, an early horror film and Victorian home movies will be on the screens of the city venue as part of the five-day festival.
This year the festival commemorates the birth of Germany’s Weimar Republic which led to an era of creativity in film and art which still influences culture today. The exodus of talented writers, directors and set designers to America when Hitler rose to power in the 1930s led directly to Hollywood’s Golden Age of cinema.
During the 1920s, it was common for films to be co-produced by British and German teams; stars from both countries worked on films and young directors such as Hitchcock worked in Germany at that time.
New Walk Museum is home to the UK’s largest collection of German Expressionist art and the man who started the art collection, Arthur Sewter, was inspired after seeing the film The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari.
A scene from From Morn to Midnight (1919)
De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s Dr Laraine Porter, who co-curates the festival, said: “It’s an absolutely fascinating period of filmmaking. You’ve just had the end of the First World War and there’s suddenly this collective shift into experimenting with new ideas.
“The films that were made in Germany at this time were unlike anything that had been seen before and you can still see a lot of the ideas influencing films today.
“We are excited to be able to show some of the films in the museum, surrounded by the paintings.”
The film festival runs from Wednesday, September 11 until Sunday, September 15 and takes place at the New Walk Museum and Leicester Phoenix Cinema.
* Check out the whole programme for this year's British Silent Film Festival
* Want to study film? Find out more at our next open day
* DMU students curate their own film festival
Among the films being shown are First World War drama Comradeship (1919) made in the immediate aftermath of war following soldiers returning to civilian life; one of the earliest musicals, The City of Song, a murder mystery in The Alley Cat and The Struggle for the Matterhorn (1928) which has been praised for its cinematography and stunning scenery. “It’s incredible,” says Laraine. “You realise that there are film crews who have had to go up the mountains bringing these enormous cameras with them.”
People can also discover the story of the Leicester Film Society, which was formed in the 1930s by people who wanted to see more independent films than were being shown in the city’s mainstream cinemas.
The BSFF is run by Laraine Porter, Bryony Dixon, Sue Porter, Pete Groschl, Miranda Gower-Quin and Neil Brand. It is funded by the British Film Institute and National Lottery, and supported by DMU’s Cinema and Television History research centre (CATHi).
Posted on Tuesday 10th September 2019