Well done everyone! The Silent London Poll of 2022 had a record-breaking number of votes, and the winners reflect a thriving, international silent film scene. Congratulations to all the people mentioned below, some of these categories were bursting with great nominations. Thank you for all your votes. And for making me blub a little when I was typing this up.
Without further ado, let me open this giant stack of golden envelopes. Here are your winners!
1. Best orchestral silent film screening of 2022
Your winner: The Manxman (Alfred Hitchcock, 1929), with a score composed by Stephen Horne, orchestrated and conducted by Ben Palmer and played by Orchestra San Marco di Pordenone, with soloists Louise Hayter and Jeff Moore, at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone.
I said: “Horne’s music is as deft as Hitch’s camera: always gorgeous, but sometimes delicate and other times thick with portents of doom… Needless to say, Hitch and Horne brought the Verdi to its feet once more.
Honorable mention: The Unknown (Tod Browning, 1927) with a score conducted and composed by José María Serralde Ruiz, performed by Orchestra San Marco di Pordenone, , at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone.
2. Best silent film screening with a solo musician or small ensemble of 2022
Your winner: La Dixième symphonie (Abel Gance, 1918), with a solo piano score by John Sweeney, at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone.
I said: “Tonight we were lucky enough to have John Sweeney on the piano. His performance was a tour de force – the recital sequence alone brought the house down. Music that rose to the occasion, and much more. trust Mr Sweeney to tread delicately over the scenes of high emotion, but to provide the perfect swell of angst in the symphony itself.
“I was in the balcony, so I must ask. Did anyone in the stalls peek into the orchestra pit to check whether a transfiguration took place? Was Ariane Hugon dancing across the top of his piano in a chiffon veil? I would believe it. Bravo.”
Honorable mention: The Fall of the House of Usher (Jean Epstein, 1928), Stephen Horne and Elizabeth-Jane Baldry, Hippfest.
3. Best online silent film screening of 2022
Tied: Moral (Willi Wolff, 1928) with Stephen Horne and Elizabeth-Jane Baldry, Stummfilmtage, Bonn & Manolescu ((Victor Tourjansky, 1929), with John Sweeney, at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone.
I said: “John Sweeney earned yet another standing ovation with a triumphant, lush score. A real highlight of the festival.”
4. Best real-world silent film festival of 2022
Your winner: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone
You said: “Giornate del Cinema Muto, wonderful to have it back to something like normal”
5. Best online silent film festival of 2022
Your winner: Stummfilmtage, Bonn (visit the website)
Paul Joyce on the screening of Gunnar Hedes Saga (Mauritz Stiller, 1923), accompanied by Neil Brand and Günter Buchwald: “What those in Bonn saw and we online heard was a deceptively effortless improvised score, sharing leading lines across instruments with a mutual understanding of the drama on screen. In fantasy Football you can select players from each side to form the best team independent of allegiance, here we had Ronaldo and Messi in fine form and it was a massive win for Fußball-Club Stummfilmtage Bonn!”
6. Best silent film venue of 2022
Your winner: The Hippodrome, Bo’ness
You can listen to me wax lyrical about this gorgeous venue on the new Hippfest podcast, here.
Some of your other nominations:
• “Arnolfini in Bristol. Very much my home for screening silent film this year.”
• “The Guildhall in Chichester tied with Guy’s Hospital Chapel (atmosphere wins every time for me!)”
• “Teatro Verdi (with the cool kids in the top balcony)”
7. Best online silent film screening series of 2022
Your winner: The Silent Comedy Watch Party, with Ben Model and Steve Massa (watch here)
I said: “Our Sundays have been blessed by silent comedy, live music and erudite introductions courtesy Ben Model, Steve Massa, and friends.”
You said: “we need more new online series! (but obvi, Silent Comedy Watch Party)”
8. Best silent film streaming platform of 2022
Your winner: Stumfilm.dk
I said:“The Danish Film Institute has done a wonderful thing – digitised its entire surviving silent film heritage and put it online at Stumfilm.dk, where you can stream it for zero krone. Yes, and many of the films have music and English subtitles too. There is so much here to enjoy, including Pat & Patachon. I was quite taken with the copious amounts of Asta Nielsen available, and AW Sandberg’s The Golden Clown from 1926 – but then I barely scratched the surface.”
You said: “DFI are brilliant!!”
9. Best silent film Blu-ray/DVD of 2022
Cinema’s First Nasty Women (Kino Lorber).
I said: “Co-curated by Laura Horak, Maggie Hennefeld and Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi, the Nasty Women project has trawled the archives for trailblazing examples of female energy, anger, transgression, rebellions and explosive hilarity in early cinema. The films have been shown at festivals around the globe and this summer you can take them home with you, courtesy of Kino Lorber, in the form of an “irreverent” four-disc box set, available in both DVD and Blu-ray flavours.”
Honorable mention: Casanova (Alexandre Volkoff, 1927, Flicker Alley).
I said: “This beautiful film is a pageant of seduction, sorcery, sedition, subterfuge, swordplay, sensory overload and … um, what else begins with S that isn’t sex? Because sex there is, in Mosjoukine’s smouldering face, in the high bosoms of his lovers, and in every kiss he places on their exposed shoudlers. But there’s more too, a rich tapestry of location (Venice to Austria, St Petersburg, and back again), and picaresque frolics… Günter Buchwald’s music (played by the Orchestra San Marco, conducted by the man himself), provided all the colour that we couldn’t see: a rainbow of hues and all the filigree and grandeur that such a clever, lavish spectacle required. Bravo.”
10. Best silent film book of 2022
Your winner: Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker’s Life, by James Curtis (Alfred A. Knopf)
Lea Stans of Silent–ology said: “Unlike many prior books on Keaton, Curtis devotes over half the book to his post-silent years, if not more–which is fantastic considering that “post-silent” spans about four decades of Keaton’s life. The portrait of our Buster finally feels full and complete. I was also struck by how skillfully it kept the focus on its subject without wavering off too much into, say, extensive backgrounds on the people Keaton encounters or long explanations of various historical events. Curtis keeps everything succinct, including just the right amount of context without losing focus.”
11. Best modern silent of 2022
Your winner: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (Disney)
Some of your other nominations:
- “TikTok… in general”
- “Enys Men even though technically not silent…”
- “Does 1989’s Batman count? The screening at IMAX in Bristol with the context of the silent film background to it by South West Silents and 20th Century Flicks was great.”
- “I haven’t had a chance to see it yet but I suspect it will be EO! Memory Box was also beautiful and had a keen sensibility for the talkie potentials of glorious silent cinema!”
- “Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles“
12. Silent film hero of 2022
Your winner: James Harrison and the South West Silents team
A well-earned victory for the team from Bristol. Year-round screenings across the region, local collaborations, a stellar programme at Cinema Rediscovered and now the launch of Film Noir UK. These guys are unstoppable!
- “Team at South West Silents around Bristol. Very much guides us through all of the screenings especially in Italy and puts on some great screenings outside Bristol as well.”
- “Has to be South West Silents as they have been amazing with their events with showing new stuff but also showcasing how silent film is still in modern films today like Blade Runner and Batman.”
- “SWS team in Bristol are great fun online and always keep an eye on what they’re doing. Their film noir stuff looks fun as well but always go to them for silent film stuff over the past year.”
- “They have been the face of silent film for me for this year.”
- “No, he hasn’t bribed me to say this.”
Some of your other nominations:
- “David Wyatt. So sorry we lost him, his good humour and his knowledge.”
- “John Sweeney’s tour de force at Pordenone. But also everyone who told me to come to Pordenone, you were all right.”
- “I must salute Ben Model and Steve Massa for keeping us entertained for something like two years (!) through their Silent Comedy Watch Party. I have been a fan of Ben’s since I lived in New York in the early 2000s and was privileged to enjoy his accompaniments to various screenings at MoMA. The SCWP is a very generous project that not only entertains but educates. As a plus, it has made my daughter a dedicated silent comedy fan!”
- “Stephen Horne because he’s been at the top of his game for over 35 years, has never ever just ‘phoned in’ a performance and silent film musicians are the heroes and heroines of the medium that bring it back to life.”
- “Frank Bockius, because dummers rarely get a shout-out”
- “Bloody hell, Pamela Hutchinson! FOR ASTA!!”
13. Silent film discovery of 2022
Tied: Asta Nielsen (In the Eyes of a Silent Star, BFI Southbank) and Norma Talmadge (Giornate del Cinema Muto)
I said: C’mon, I talked a lot about Die Asta this year. You can catch up here.
- “Downfall (1923) with Asta Nielsen, but it could have been any of the rarely screened films in The Season of the Year!!”
- “Norma Talmadge! A name often encountered yet seldom seen.”
- “Not first time, but the Asta Nielsen season at the BFI was a revelation – if only the BFI did more seasons like this.”
Some of your other nominations:
- “Dovzhenko – director of Ukraine silent ‘Earth’ – just shattering emotionally on every level – and to watch the poetic depiction of their countryside, landscape and agriculture at that time given the contrast with what is happening to it now…just devastating.”
- “The Gault Collection as presented by the brilliant Kathy Rose O’Regan at the SFSFF.”
- “The Saga of the Family of Borg (1920), brilliant. And also the ending of The Lady with Norma Talmadge.”
- “An avant-garde short film Europa (1931-1932)”
- “Hände (Germany 1929) directed by Miklós Bándy and Stella F. Simon, restored by DFF – German Film Institute & Filmmuseum, and presented at both the Bonn International Silent Film Festival and Le Giornate del cinema muto 2022.”
- “Luise Kolm-Fleck. I had known her name for a while and finally saw some of her films in 2022.”
- “Edward Everett Horton in silent comedies. Especially ib the shorts he made that were produced by Harold Lloyd.”
- “Beyond the Barricade (Har jeg Ret til at tage mit eget Liv?, 1920), writen and directed by Holger-Madsen.”
14. Best silent film restoration of 2022
Your winner: Foolish Wives (Erich von Stroheim 1922), by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and Moma
I said: “Stroheim was at his most charismatic (and dashing in his crisp white uniform) as a conniving seducer preying on the vulnerabilities of vain rich women and the (Californian) scenery sparkled in this new version. And of course, just when you mistakenly assume you know this tune all too well, the final act blazes with colour, revenge and romantic madness. We cheered! EVS always has a trick up his sleeve. So much careful work went into this restoration and it shows. Foolish Wives looked sublime, and Timothy Brock’s score, played by Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, rose to the challenge without ever pulling focus from the on-screen excesses.”
Honorable mention: The Unknown (Tod Browning, 1927), by george Eastman House and The National Film Preservation Foundation.
Some of your other nominations:
- “Just Around the Corner (Frances Marion, 1921), an impressive reconstruction (rather than restoration) from two very different source elements.
- “Manolescu, esp. as it had been unavailable for years, and it looked stunning.”
- “Georg Jacoby’s The Joker newly restored by the Danish Film Institute, Cinema Rediscovered.”
- “Blind Husbands (US 1919) restored by the Austrian Film Museum.”
15. Best intertitle of 2022
Your winner, by a landslide: “I WAS that waiter!” (The Sign on the Door, Herbert Brenon, 1921)
I said: “This film was utterly daft, entirely engrossing, glamorously dressed… and contained a twist that NOT ONE PERSON in the Verdi saw coming. Thanks to Maud Nelissen for accompanying this film with enough verve that we could enjoy the twists and not think too much about the grisly implications.”
Some of your other, brilliant, nominations:
- “Oh, my husband’s all right – but he’s not vital. Phil-for-Short (1919)”
- “‘Look! There are the “Z”!’ from Zigomar Peau D’anguille (1913) screened in Bologna”
- “‘I did not seek religion, when life was fair, and I am to proud to do it now that my happiness has been cast aside!’ said by Asta Nielsen in Towards the Light (Mod Lyset, 1919), writen and directed by Holger-Madsen.”
- “If you lose this war, don’t blame me.”
- “‘Go to Hell!’ Foolish Wives.
- “‘A doo-dad! A feminine doo-dad! An article of intimate apparel!’ (Up in Mabel’s Room)
Thanks to everyone who voted, and congratulations to all the fabulous winners!
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