THE 15TH SILENT MOVIE FESTIVAL
Join us April 19-22 at Kino Iluzjon for the 15th edition of the Silent Movie Festival. The festival will be accompanied by a plethora of companion events held at the FINA offices at 3/5 Wałbrzyska Street in Warsaw. The festival programme includes screenings of silent films accompanied by jazz, classical, club, and experimental music performed live by internationally acclaimed artists including Włodek Pawlik, Gaba Kulka, Drekoty, Resina, and Sutari.
The Festival’s Leading Star: Pola Negri
This year’s Silent Movie Festival will focus on one of the icons of pre-WW2 cinema—Pola Negri, born in Poland as Barbara Apolonia Chałupiec. Discovered by “Sfinks,” a local movie studio, Negri came into stardom with the help of the German “UFA” studio, where her talents were developed in a very productive creative partnership with the director Ernst Lubitsch. Their collaboration led to a contract with the American giant Paramount Studios and the most illustrious chapter in Negri’s career, which eventually put her in the same league as Greta Garbo, Gloria Swanson, and Mary Pickford. With her uncommon looks and considerable acting talent, Negri cut a magnetic presence on the silver screen. She played Gypsies, rogues, Spanish dancers, and menial laborers equally well. The fundamental objective of this year’s Festival is to take give the audiences a closer look at the phenomenon of Pola Negri by offering them the broadest possible take on her considerable acting range.
Film and Musical Programme
The festival will open with a screening of the film that launched Negri’s career—the 1917 motion picture “The Polish Dancer.” The film survives only in the American edition that changed the original title of the Polish release—“Bestia,” or “the beast.” Currently, the film is the oldest film in Negri’s filmography and the only surviving example of her early performances. The screening will also mark the public release of the 4K copy of the picture that underwent comprehensive digital restoration. The film programme of the festival will offer a broad look at the many faces of Pola Negri, including the actress’ melodramatic, comedc, and even futuristic-slash-grotesque performances. To offer the broadest possible take on Negri’s acting range, we loaned highly unique copies of Negri’s movies from the Murnau Stiftung in Wiesbaden, the EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, and the Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin. Aside from pictures starring Pola Negri, the film programme will include a number of female-led silent movies, including “The Abyss” with Danish actress Asta Nielsen whom Negri was often compared to, “Pandora’s Box” with Louise Brooks, famous for her portrayal of Negri-like femme fatale figures, and “Patsy,” which features Marion Davis in a phenomenal parody of the archaic acting style of the Polish actress.
The screenings will be accompanied by live performances by a plethora of artists; aside from the musicians mentioned above, the artist roster will include Bye Bye Butterfly, Pink Park, Tropikalium, Jędrzej Łagodziński, and Albert Karch. Seeing as this edition of the Festival is dedicated to a remarkable actress, we wanted the musical portion of the festival to showcase female talent, too.
Enthusiasts of the music of pre-WW2 Warsaw—the work of Wiera Gran, Mieczysław Fogg, and Adam Aston—will definitely enjoy the dance party helmed by Warszawska Orkiestra Sentymentalna. For the youngest attendees, we’ve prepared a number of family-oriented events along with an interactive screening of archival animated films accompanied by live performers. We’ve invited a number of highly respected artists, including Anna Ługowska, Jakub Pałys, Aleksandra Nykowska, Bartosz Ługowski, and Piotr Jarosz, to participate in the project.
We will also try to examine the phenomenon of Pola Negri, her career, and her rather mythologized biography in a more comprehensive manner during the international conference “Pola Negri—Actress, Icon, Legend” that we will be organizing with help from Polish film scholars from leading academic institutions and in collaboration with the Le Giornate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone and the Amsterdam EYE Filmmuseum.
Additionally, the films screened at the Silent Movie Festival will also serve us a pretext to explore graphic behind-the-scenes stories and prurient scandals that dominated tabloid headlines a century ago.