The Sound Of Silent Film Festival - Reviewed

Holly reviews the festival 

For thirteen years The Sound of Silent Film Festival has enriched audiences with it’s annual selection of modern silent movies featuring a live orchestra. I had the pleasure of attending the festival for the first time over the weekend and I found that it was a unique cinematic experience. Seeing a live orchestra perform original music over each film is something to truly be cherished whilst living in an era where explosions and robots fighting tend to be what is heard most in mainstream movies. There was a lot of talent in that room on Saturday night and many memorable films that were shown. Here is my review of each movie featured at the Sound of Silent Film Festival including all of those “After Dark “ submissions. 

7:00 Featured Program

That Unusual Brick 

Film by Jesse Burks 
Music by Nicole Murphy

 A quirky man dressed in pastel and donning a red bowtie appears to be at wit’s end in his attempt to have a quaint little meal. The first entry in the festival is a charming one and one of the most pleasant in content. Yet, the film does take a rather strange turn involving a little man and a brick.

Two Black Coffees 

Film Noir, Thriller, Mystery 
Film by Michael Driscoll 
Music by Donnie Walker 

A dark and gloomy tale involving a woman, her husband, and her lover. Two Black Coffees aimed to seduce the audience with it’s sensuous score and sultry black and white. The film had somewhat of a sinister feel to it. In addition to that, it also featured some clever shots in reverse.

Nation Down 

Drama, Science Fiction 
Film by Liam Hendrix Heath 
Music by Dominic Johnson

Riots arise and wars break out on a dystopian planet not too different from our own. The smokey mists of blues and reds as well as the variety of locations make the film stand out on a visual level, yet the idea almost seemed a bit too big for the allotted time given.

The Scroll of Morlock 

Horror, Comedy 
Film by Dash Finley 
Music by Lawrence Axelrod

The first movie of the night to truly feel like it was derived directly from the silent film era, The Scroll of Morlock is as funny as it is spooky. A horrid Nosferatuesque ghoul threatens a beautiful young woman and her handsome suitor. This was an overall enjoyable film to watch that felt like a early Hollywood horror throwback. I also liked how the score really utilized the pit with additional sound effects, such as the “birds” chirping.

The Man Who Was Ill 

Drama, Comedy 
Film by Luke Marsden 
Music by Elizabeth Start 

Another throwback to the silent film era, The Man who was Ill is a bit more avant garde compared to the prior entry. It is a love story regarding an artist, his muse, and the muse’s one-eyed sister. There are also two eyeballs in a mason jar. The Man Who Was Ill was consistently entertaining with a lovely message to cap it all off at the end.

atoms of ashes 

Drama, Experimental 
Film by Maggie Scrantom 
Music by Nattalie Dietterich 

I feel that of all the entries in the festival, this is the one that epitomizes the idea of a silent film in the modern era. Terrifically scored with a New Age sound, Atom of Ashes deals with the complexity of a woman’s emotions due to miscarrying a child. With celestial imagery woven throughout the film, Atom of Ashes is the most somber films of the evening and certainly one of the most memorable entries.

Saturn Return 

Animation, Fantasy, Adventure, Science Fiction 
Film by Evan Curtis 
Music by Anthony Green 

Between the use of stop motion animation and a score reminiscent of Gustav Holst’s The Planets, Saturn Return was one of the most outstanding entries of the night. It involves an astronaut, a new planet, and a tree-growing skeleton. Saturn Return was intriguing from start to finish and unlike anything I have ever seen before.

Margaret and the Moon 

 Animation, Adventure, Drama 
Film by Trevor Morgan 
Music by Gary Rubio 

A flawless integration of a classic silent film and the modern day era, this is perhaps the best film from the first batch of movies. Margaret and the Moon follows a bullied young girl who finds an escape through her own whimsical dreamland featuring The Man in the Moon from the iconic silent film Les Voyage dans la Lune or A Trip to the Moon. This film was beautiful, heartwarming, and featured a strong performance with it’s young lead. Margaret and the Moon is a standout.

9:30 "Late Night" Program (Viewer Discretion Advised)

Manos de la Muerte (Hands of Death) 

Horror Spoof 
Film by Dave Less 
Music by Seth Boustead 

A sepia tone facades of the first entry of the more “darker” toned movies. It’s a love story between an orphaned woman and her mysterious suitor. Or is it a lustful tale between a mysterious suitor and an orphaned woman’s hands? With the sultry piano playing being the focal point of this movie, Manos De La Muerte is a slow build into a tragic and gruesome conclusion. The right choice to kick off this side of the festival.

Frollein Frappe 
Comedy, Drama 
Film by Vanessa Aab 
Music by Seth Boustead 

Franz and Greta are deeply in love with each other, even though they are cousins and social conventions forbid them to act on their desire and feelings for each other. In the tradition of 20′s surrealist cinema the line between dreams and reality blur as the loving couple tries to undermine the moral standards in a romantic and comic way. But when Greta suddenly changes her mind and leaves Franz’s vision, his emotions fall into a bottomless abyss. 

When You Call Me That, Smile 

Drama, Comedy
 Film by Nick Toti 
Music by Sebastian Huydts

This is the film that really pushed it, as in full-frontal-male-nudity/pastel-vomit/black-face kind of pushing it. For the record, it was excellent and most certainly admirable for “going there.” It revolves around an amateur comedian who loses his sanity throughout his journey from a small town to the big city as he pursues his dreams. The male lead gave arguably the best performance of all the entries. When You Call Me That, Smile is the kind of movie where it hurts to watch the protagonist’s downward spiral and yet you can’t take your eyes away from it. 

Leatherface in Love 
Film by Alexander Bickford 
Music by Tony Scott-Green 

 This one deserves a bit of a suspension of disbelief from a horror purist’s perspective. Once that can be accomplished, it can be said that this film is harmless and charming. Just as the title states, Leatherface has found love with a lady Leatherface and he is trying to make it work. It’s really quite something when a movie can make such a brutal character cheeky and cute and that is just what Leatherface In Love does. It was accompanied by just an electric guitar and a cello making it one of my favorite scores of the night. 

Tea Party 
Drama, Experimental 
Film by Brian Zahm 
Music by Gunnelpumpers 

I saw a couple jaws dropping during the final entry of the night. What can possible be said about this film? It’s a decrepit old grandma practicing her pole dancing routine (she's pretty good at it, too!) In all seriousness, Tea Party was extremely well done. The reving guitars are paired perfectly with the peculiar imagery. Tea Party most certainly is one for the ages.