Laughter In Lockdown #6 – Remembering the comedy genius of Victoria Wood

Laughter In Lockdown #6 – Remembering the comedy genius of Victoria Wood

Laughter In Lockdown #6 – Remembering the comedy genius of Victoria Wood

On 20 April 2016, the world lost the extraordinarily talented and exceptionally funny comedian, actress, singer, composer, screenwriter, producer and director Victoria Wood.

As a regular guest at the festival (which included her triumphantly hosting our 2013 gala), we knew we had to celebrate her life at the following year’s festival.

So, in collaboration with Bristol Festival of Ideas and The University of Bristol, we convened a panel which included stand-up comedians Pippa Evans and Lucy Porter, along with comedy and theatre historian Louise Wingrove, to discuss her extraordinary legacy and influence. Needless to say, the show sold out in double-quick time.

The event was hosted by Andrew Kelly and is the latest Laughter In Lockdown release.

Laughter in Lockdown 5 – The Goodies 50th Anniversary LIVE with Robin Ince

Laughter in Lockdown 5 – The Goodies 50th Anniversary LIVE with Robin Ince

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Laughter in Lockdown 5 – The Goodies 50th Anniversary LIVE with Robin Ince

Back in January, The Goodies gathered together on a Slapstick stage for what ultimately proved to be the last time as a trio, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their groundbreaking TV series.

Hosted by Robin Ince, the show featured a discussion on the extraordinary legacy of their award-winning TV series (1970-82) as well as a countdown of the public’s favourite episodes from the show – as decided upon by an online poll run by the festival in the lead up to the event. This winning episode (no spoilers please if you were at the show!) was screened in full at the end of the evening.

As most of you will now know, we recently learned of the sad passing of Tim Brooke-Taylor OBE. Tim was on great form on the evening of this event, exuding his usual enthusiasm, passion, charm, energy and wit. We hope you’ll agree it serves as a fitting tribute to an undisputed comedy legend.

The Goodies 50th Anniversary Poll

The Goodies 50th Anniversary Poll

The Goodies 50th Anniversary Poll

Those of you who are old enough, cast your minds back to the evening of the 8th of November 1970. What were you doing that night? Were you perhaps huddled round a (probably) black and white television screen eagerly anticipating the first episode of what was to become a hugely popular and groundbreaking comedy series called The Goodies? We like to think probably so!

The Goodies was ultimately so successful it ran to nine magnificent series, clocking up an impressive 77 episodes of anarchic, hilarious, innovative, disruptive, occasionally quite puzzling and always brilliant comedy in the process.

And on the occasion of the year of the 50th anniversary of The Goodies we’ve decided it’s time for you, fans of Slapstick and The Goodies, to definitively help us decide which is the greatest episode of all time!

To make this happy chore a little easier for you we’ve gone through all 77 episodes (a thankless task but someone had to do it!) with the help of The Goodies themselves and a few of our celebrity friends and have narrowed all the episodes down to what we think are the best ten.

When the results of our poll are in, the episode earning the most votes will be screened at Slapstick’s 50th Anniversary of The Goodies event in Bristol on January 25th, in the company of the dashing trio themselves; Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, and Bill Oddie.

“Sounds like a great idea, how do we vote?” you ask?

Well, it couldn’t be easier. All you need do is click this link and head to our official poll form. You then just scroll down the list of episodes, click on the one you feel deserves to be chosen as “The Greatest Goodies Episode Of All Time”, carry on down to the foot of the page and click “submit”. It’s as easy as that!

Happy voting!

The Complete Goiodies 9883
The Complete Goiodies 9883

Silent Comedy Spectacular with Barry Humphries at the London Palladium

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Paladum Poster Barryst 4 page 001

Silent Comedy Spectacular with Barry Humphries at the London Palladium

Step inside the iconic London Palladium to be enthralled and entertained by your all-time favourite big-screen comedy stars from yesteryear, accompanied by a live orchestra.

A trio of silent comedies from comedy giants Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy, will be presented by multi-award winning, critically acclaimed performer, writer and silent comedy aficionado, Barry Humphries.

Experience the thrill of Buster Keaton’s most famous – and most dangerous – stunt, the house fall, in the outstanding comedy masterpiece Steamboat Bill Junior (1927). Presented on a vast HD screen, the movie will be accompanied live by The Bristol Ensemble, who will perform the London premiere of a new score composed and conducted by maestro Carl Davis.

Plus you’ll have the chance to enjoy short comedies from Laurel & Hardy and Charlie Chaplin, all with outstanding live musical accompaniment.

Barry’s special guests include comedy legend and national treasure Barry Cryer with his partner in musical comedy crime Ronnie Golden, along with showbiz legend, the inimitable Bernie Clifton.

This promises to be a unique and hilarious night to remember.

“If you’ve a shred of a sense of humour – this‘ll be one of the high points of the year”
– Sir Michael Palin.

Silent Comedy Spectacular with Barry Humphries at The London Palladium. Sunday, April 29th at 14:30 and 19:30. Tickets from £38.29 available HERE.

The Goodies – VIP Competition

The Goodies – VIP Competition

We have an amazing prize for one die-hard fan of The Goodies! Win VIP passes for The Complete Goodies at Bristol Old Vic on January 19th and meet Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Bill Oddie after the show.

Finally! The last, great unreleased DVD box set has seen the light of day. For the first time ever anywhere in the world every episode of THE GOODIES has been released for obsessive fans – young and old.

To celebrate, Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Bill Oddie reunite on stage at Bristol Old Vic for a unique afternoon in conversation. Graeme, Tim and Bill will talk about their sparkling career in comedy and the enduring popularity of ‘The Goodies’ decades on. Prepare for delight and discovery as ardent fan Richard Herring rummages through his new box set for classic clips from one of the best loved TV comedies.

For your chance to win, enter below:

The Inbetweeners – VIP Competition

WIN A PAIR OF VIP TICKETS INCLUDING BACKSTAGE ACCESS!

We’re giving away an amazing prize to one die-hard fan of The Inbetweeners! Join us for a special double bill at Bristol Old Vic on January 19th, featuring actor Joe Thomas AKA Simon Cooper and the show’s creators Damon Beesley and Iain Morris. Fresh off the screen from Fwends Reunited – the show’s 10th anniversary special on Channel 4 – Joe, Damon and Iain will relive the show’s best moments and reflect on its enduring success.

This will be followed by a screening on The Inbetweeners Movie (2011) – which still holds the UK record for the biggest opening weekend of a comedy film – introduced by Joe, Damon and Iain.

To win a pair of VIP tickets for the whole evening, including backstage access, simply send us your email address below…

Buy tickets for The Inbetweeners Phenomenon and The Inbetweeners Movie.

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Young Slapstick Reviewers

Young Slapstick Reviewers

Six young people attended a fantastic Young Slapstick reviewing workshop with the brilliant Lynn Barlow and then wrote reviews of the Slapstick Gala. Huge thanks to Lynn Barlow for teaching the reviewing workshop, to Cathy Poole for facilitating it, and to all our amazing Young Slapstick reviewers!

Slapstick Silent Comedy Gala: Review

If you’re not familiar with Bristol’s annual comedy celebration at The Colston Hall, let me summarise for you; live music, classic films, live comedy, and a room full of people laughing from start to finish.

The festival this year is on its fourteenth run within venues across Bristol, you can feel that it is put on for the love of comedy and its history, with the support of famous comedians who make guest appearances amongst the audience and who present the shows.

The evening is unique as you get to enjoy some of the best onscreen classics of silent comedy the way it would have been enjoyed in its day. The films are accompanied with live music by the European Silent screen virtuosi and members of the Bristol Ensemble, the performances make the films a different experience, one that’s more special than watching the films on a laptop at home.

Audiences get to witness on a big screen some of the kings of slapstick comedy, including Laurel and Hardy accidentally getting into a bit of trouble and fighting like an old married couple, Buster Keaton performing stunts on trains and banana skins for our enjoyment and Charlie Chaplin stealing hot dogs and terrorising local police with a puppy called ‘Scraps’, who arguably stole the hearts of the audience.

Slapstick is a treat for anyone of any age looking for something different to a typical cinema outing.

Francesca Cilia

Charlie Chaplin’s ‘A Dog’s Life’: Fighting for Scraps!

I’m a complete newbie when comes to silent films, but I can honestly say that after seeing Chaplin’s A Dog’s Life at the Slapstick Comedy Festival Gala, my interest has been peaked. The film was packed with energy and action I didn’t expect to see at all, with Chaplin in the main role as the marvellous, easy-going tramp and Edna Purviance as the shy and flouncing bar singer.

The film starts off with Chaplin’s tramp simply sleeping within the comfort of a street side fence, from there Charlie saves and forms a friendship with the adorable stray, Scraps. The duo then meet the bouncing bar singer, Edna, and through a flurry of events, find a wallet full of cash. There was no stopping Charlie and Scraps from wreaking hilarious havoc.

I’m all for the funny gags throughout the film, especially the scene where Edna’s emotional singing makes everyone in the bar weep, and with the version I saw, there was a live orchestra playing in the background emphasising the scene’s ridiculous sadness.

The direction and performance in this short movie was spectacular, Edna was particularly comic in her performance as, despite her shy appearance, (biting her nails and the seriously awkward flirting) she was a dancing queen; her dancing scene with Charlie had her bouncing about the room in the most joyous way possible. I almost wanted to dance with her!

The film ended sweetly with Charlie and Edna, now married and living in the country off the stolen loot, looking endearingly at puppies in a basket cuddled around their mother, a true thoroughbred, Scraps.

I seriously recommend this movie to others; I have become a new fan of silent comedy. The movie was overall light hearted, yet full of action; through the perspective of Chaplin and Scraps, we see their hardships and likeness of soul. Enjoying every second and laughing at the gags, I am really impressed with the loveable humour of Charlie Chaplin, and will be searching up more of his works in the future. The Slapstick Comedy festival is held once a year and shows classics like this one over a week and I would very likely go again!

Chloe McCormack

Reflecting Through A Pair of Dog’s Eyes-A Dog’s Life Review-

Colston Hall falls silent. Sank in darkness, the screen casts the first beams of light on the audience of Slapstick Festival, gradually revealing the posh old-fashioned title card: A Dog’s Life. The live Ensemble fills the large room with the first thrilling notes of music, while the camera slowly tilts downwards to a sleeping beloved figure of the Silent Film Era, Charlie Chaplin. The whole room booms in laughs, announcing a welcoming and heart-warming evening at the Silent Comedy Gala.

Following the partly comedic, partly dramatic story of a tramp who tries to adapt and survive in the turmoiled society at the beginning of the twentieth century, A Dog’s Life not only shows the struggles of a life in the streets, but also the intellectual poverty of the bourgeois. Shot in black and white, the simplistic cinematography focuses on the protagonist in high contrast long and mid-shots. Also, the camera often opens in wides, following his rather theatrically fluid movements in the attentively crafted environment he is living in, creating the effect of an ample fresco.

Looking through the camera lens, we can easily empathize with our protagonist, understanding his apparently naïve and foolish day to day decisions. We notice how the tramp builds a deep connection with the dog he saves, the film gradually revealing that his new companion represents his own reflection in the world. The scene when he saves the dog from a battle and the cafe scenes, where various archetypes are presented in a human form as the clientele, are built as a symbolic parallel which depicts the alienation in a constantly ignorant and self-centered society.

However, the film has a happy ending, which shows a development of the protagonist and a change of his status. After finding a hidden wallet, the final scene presents him successfully running a farm and being married to the young singer he has met in the café, proving that everybody finds the accomplishment in their lives.

To conclude, A Dog’s Life represents an enriching

experience of the Silent Film Era, as well as a never-aging  funny story which teaches people of all ages the morals of humility, and a lesson for life, broadening their cinematic knowledge.

Ioana Bulai

Silent Comedy Gala: Review

The 2018 slapstick comedy festival is unequivocally brilliant. It has all the presence of a modern show; high tech audio mixers, projectors and the like, buy ativan with no prescription while possessing the ability to make me feel like I’d been taken back in time to the 1920’s, thanks to the breathtaking atmosphere. The festival is a breath of fresh air in today’s cinema climate, its ability to draw in a full house year after year showing that you don’t need flashy CGI or high-budget Hollywood audio to leave audiences with a smile on their faces.

This year’s event was hosted by comedian Tim Vine, a first-time Slapstick Festival presenter who maintained the high-energy atmosphere between screenings, thanks to some fantastically quick-witted comedy chops. Tim did a phenomenal job of ensuring that there were never any lulls between films, keeping the audience consistently entertained with a steady stream of one liners and witty puns.

Midway through the evening we were treated to a performance by The Kagools, a multi-award winning comedy duo from our very own United Kingdom. The act were an excellent homage to everything slapstick; their wordless comedy felt era appropriate for both the 1920’s and today, a perfect blend of old-fashioned fun and references to contemporary comedy (most notably Baywatch-esque slow motion running) and the classic gag of picking on the front row, even blasting crowds with water guns.

Additionally, the musical groups were a fantastic accompaniment to the films, with performers from the Bristol Ensemble and the European Silent Screen Virtuosi. Günter A. Buchwald’s conducting lead the orchestras to success, their seamless soundtrack lending itself so perfectly to the films that I almost forgot it wasn’t prerecorded background music!

I’d be hard pressed to provide a reasonable criticism of the event, as everything proceeded smoothly and without delay. There was never a dull moment, ensuring my enthusiasm was maintained throughout. As a first time Slapstick Festival goer, I am certain that I will be returning for future events.

Dan Bowers

Laurel and Hardy’s Angora Love film review

This film stars the hilarious double act ‘Laurel and Hardy,’ who became well-known during the 1920s and through the mid-1940s with their very well performed slapstick comedy. It follows their idiotic journey where they come they come across a goat that causes trouble, and eventually ends up going home with them. It is an extremely funny short film, full of unfortunate happenings that are much more humorous to the audience than to the characters.

The plot centers around a stupid and thin English man called Stan Laurel (played by Arthur Stanley Jefferson) and an American fat man called Oliver Hardy (played by Norvell Hardy). The two bicker back and forth (with plenty of physical comedy, of course) throughout the film.

A goat follows them after Laurel gives it a doughnut, and he then takes it home with them.  They make a lot of noise and disturb the unfriendly landlord from whom they hide the goat under the bed. They notice that the goat smells, and so attempt to give it a bath which causes a mess – and the landlord to check on them again. They comically pour water over one another in a childish manner, and anger each other even more.

It is directed by Lewis R. Foster who directed and wrote over one hundred films and television series between 1926 and 1960. It is full of fantastic shots, for example near the beginning they are running from the goat and it cuts between the goat chasing them and them running comically, which was accompanied by brilliant live music that added to the comedy.

In my opinion, this was an excellent film, full of hilarious slapstick comedy. The performance is extremely well done, with great facial expressions that made the entire audience laugh continuously.

Laurel and Hardy are classic characters that many will always love. It is definitely a memorable film for me with barely anything that could be criticized. However, if I were to criticize something, it would be that it was a little confusing at times, but that is to be expected in a film with no dialogue.

For the most part, the film and the storyline was conveyed spectacularly though the iconic physical comedy. I highly recommend you watch this film, as it really shows the talented actors skills in slapstick comedy and is sure to make you laugh throughout.

Sasha Cussens

Move over Cumberbatch, Buster Keaton’s the only Sherlock for me. 

What can be said about Sherlock Jr. that hasn’t been said already? Originally mildly received and a relatively financial ‘failure’ according to Keaton, the 5 reel film has since become a treasure of early cinema and is heralded as one of his greatest works.

It’s a story of love, dreams and aspirations. A projectionist dreams of being a detective, dreams of marrying a girl and, quite literally, dreams half the film away in a long, expanded dream sequence that leaves you completely forgetting about the previous plot, culminating in a massive laugh when we finally return to reality.

But we don’t watch Keaton for a thrilling story, we watch him for the gags! As ever, they seamlessly flow together, one after the other, incorporated and truly part of the story themselves. Nothing is a side gag. He gets into trouble with a laugh, and gets out of trouble with a laugh.

As child performer in vaudeville acts, Keaton gained much of his influence from such magical comedic tricks. Like when he disappears into the belly of a friend, or when he jumps through a window and uses a shawl to suddenly disguise himself. Other gags are achievable only through the power of cinéma. His use of double exposure to make it seem like he is in the film screen that is cutting between different locations, and reversing film to create the illusion of narrowly missing a train is brilliant.

But Keaton is most famous for his world renowned stunts, impressive still to this day. Out of the 4 films viewed last night at the Silent comedy Gala, this is the one that truly impressed me. Today we’d only see this done through special effects, clever cuts or in cartoons.

Falling from a level crossing gate into a car, actually breaking his neck from a torrent of water, controlling a motorbike whilst sitting on its handles and my favourite; getting perfect snooker shots whilst always avoiding the one explosive ball; all of his stunts are always widely framed so that the whole stunt can be seen in one shot. No cuts. The dauntlessness and dedication is ever incredible and of course, fantastically hilarious.

Just see this film. Do it. You won’t regret it. 40 minutes of your time. It’s wonderful with a live audience and band, but still just as funny at home. It’s the golden pinnacle of the comedic silent age, and one the whole family can enjoy.

Shayan Ghorbanian

Slapstick Festival 2018

Slapstick Festival 2018

Welcome to Slapstick 2018

To an increasingly crazy world, comedy brings solace and sanity and Bristol’s SLAPSTICK now stands as Europe’s biggest and best festival of comedy, bringing together classic screen clowning with today’s fnest living laughter-makers from British stage and television. This year is the 14th and our biggest edition yet.

This edition of Slapstick festival is dedicated to our dear friend Tony White (1937-2017). His devotion, enthusiasm and contribution to Slapstick was always a highlight each year for us and he will be sorely missed by us all.

Comedy is timeless and this year’s SLAPSTICK celebrates the centenary of Buster Keaton’s debut in pictures: a hundred years later he stands with Chaplin – an icon, more funny and relevant than ever. More than half a century ago British television saw an explosion of comedy genius – from Monty Python to Dad’s Army, from Peter Sellers to Eric & Ernie – that still leaves its indelible mark on the best new laughter-makers today. At SLAPSTICK, today’s comedy creators merrily and passionately confront their comic ancestry for new audiences.

Several events – notably our opening night screening of SPITE MARRIAGE – recall the making and mastery of Buster Keaton. Oscar-winning historian, restorer and flm-maker Kevin Brownlow presents some Keaton surprises, while historian David Robinson reveals the vaudeville world that produced the young Keaton. Bristol will also have an early opportunity to see James Dangerfeld’s “one-man musical”, When You Fall Down, in tribute to Keaton’s life and work. A premiere programme of flms rediscovered after disappearing for more than a century – most from the collection of Anthony Saffrey, who will be present for the event – shows the evolution of the comic star: from Andre Deed and Max Linder to lesser-known geniuses like Marcel Perez and Karl Valentin. In addition Chris Serle introduces us to the unjustly long-forgotten Austrian clowns, Cocl and Seff.

Stand-up comedian, actress and writer Lucy Porter celebrates the great female comics of the screen, Betty Balfour and Constance Talmadge (Buster Keaton’s sister-in-law!) and the unparalleled Jo Brand chooses her top funny moments whilst comedian Lee Mack celebrates Laurel & Hardy in a special event on Saturday at Colston Hall.

A special feature of this year’s SLAPSTICK is the role that music has played in comedy. A celebratory late-night screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show with special guest Jason Donovan. The musical theme continues with a series of programmes fronted by the patron saint of SLAPSTICK, Barry Cryer, whose unparalleled contribution to British comedy writing includes The Two Ronnies. Barry’s frequent partner in comedy crime, Ronnie Golden appears in a solo show and veteran Goodie and wildlife champion Bill Oddie will reveal the secrets of song writing for The Goodies. There is a rare reunion of the mock heavy-metal band “Bad News,” from The Comic Strip Presents, with Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer in an onstage discussion. “Raw Sex”, the comedy musical double act with Rowland Rivron and Simon Grint, also features as Rowland discusses their rise from French & Saunders house band to cult comedy legends today.

THE MUSIC

Slapstick is proud, as ever, to present world class live music accompaniments for its projected silent film screenings from solo piano improvisations to full orchestral scores and this year is no exception. At our gala, Charles Chaplin’s A Dog’s Life (1918) is being accompanied by the 16-piece Bristol Ensemble performing with Chaplin’s own score conducted by Slapstick’s Musical Director, maestro Günter A. Buchwald. The unstoppable four-piece ensemble European Silent Screen Virtuosi (ESSV) return with special guest musicians including Oscar©-winner Richard Williams on cornet and Roger Huckle (Bristol Ensemble) to accompany Keaton’s Sherlock Jr They will also provide accompaniment for Battle of the Century (1927) on Saturday night and Spite Marriage (1929) on Thursday evening.

In addition multi-instrumentalist Stephen Horne will be accompanying classic Keaton shorts at Bristol Old Vic on Saturday afternoon and we are delighted to welcome back the world’s foremost silent film harpist Elizabeth-Jane Baldry who’ll be accompanying short comedies for us on solo harp on Saturday. Pianist and composer Daan van den Hurk  returns to Slapstick Festival on piano and other solo performers include John Sweeney and Günter A. Buchwald.[

A brand new event for which we anticipate a big future is “Young Slapstick Saturday ” at Colston Hall which combines screenings of classic comedy short flms with a comedy workshop for 8-11 year olds and Punch-and-Judy shows in between. Slapstick offers fun and laughter for all the family and all the South West. There could be no better way to start the year 2018!

There could be no better way to start the year 2018!

Chris Daniels,
Director,
Slapstick Festival

Slapstick ’18 – In Photos

Here are a selection of photos from the 14th edition of Slapstick Festival which we reproduce here with thanks to our brilliant team of photographers, Paul Lippiatt, David Betteridge and Dave Nelson. Check out more of their work on their websites, which can be found here (for Paul), here (for David) and here (for Dave).

More photos are already on our social media channels and we’ll no doubt be adding even more over the coming days so please keep a lookout for them. We are on Facebook as SlapstickFestival, and on both Twitter and Instagram as @SlapstickFest.

A Dogs Life © David Betteridge
A Dogs Life © David Betteridge
Tim Vine © David Betteridge
Tim Vine © David Betteridge
slapstickgala 2018 6456 preview
slapstickgala 2018 6456 preview
Lee Mack Barry Cryer Custard Pie 1 © David Betteridge
Lee Mack Barry Cryer Custard Pie 1 © David Betteridge
Lee Mack Barry Cryer Custard Pie 2 © David Betteridge
Lee Mack Barry Cryer Custard Pie 2 © David Betteridge
Lee Mack Barry Cryer Custard Pie 3 © David Betteridge
Lee Mack Barry Cryer Custard Pie 3 © David Betteridge
Lee Mack © David Betteridge
Lee Mack © David Betteridge
Jason Donovan Rocky Horror © David Betteridge
Jason Donovan Rocky Horror © David Betteridge
Jason Donovan Robert Ross Rocky Horror © David Betteridge
Jason Donovan Robert Ross Rocky Horror © David Betteridge
Rocky Horror Best Costume Competition Entrants 2 © David Betteridge 1024x683 1
Rocky Horror Best Costume Competition Entrants 2 © David Betteridge 1024×683 1
Rocky Horror Best Costume Competition Entrants © David Betteridge
Rocky Horror Best Costume Competition Entrants © David Betteridge
Ade Edminson Nigel Planer © Paul Lippiatt 1024x682 1
Ade Edminson Nigel Planer © Paul Lippiatt 1024×682 1
Jo Brand © Paul Lippiatt 681x1024 1
Jo Brand © Paul Lippiatt 681×1024 1
Jo Brand 2 © Paul Lippiatt 1024x682 1
Jo Brand 2 © Paul Lippiatt 1024×682 1
Sunday Roland © Rivron Paul Lippiatt 1024x682 1
Sunday Roland © Rivron Paul Lippiatt 1024×682 1
Kevin Brownlow David Robinson © David Nelson 1024x830 1
Kevin Brownlow David Robinson © David Nelson 1024×830 1
David Robinson Chris Daniels © David Nelson 1024x704 1
David Robinson Chris Daniels © David Nelson 1024×704 1

Pordenone Diaries – Day 3

Pordenone Diaries – Day 3

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So, finally, I am writing about our last day at the festival! Sorry about the delay… but here it is! Monday the 2nd of October was our final day in Pordenone and I planned to make the most of it! I’ve decided that three days at the festival is not enough. Next year, I am planning to stay for the whole week.

leontine and rosalie
leontine and rosalie

Monday started with the second half of the “Nasty Women” shorts. I found this screening much more interesting as it primarily focused on two wonderful comedic creations, Leontine and Rosalie. Leontine is quite the mischief maker whose shorts often revolved around her using string to pull pranks on unsuspecting townsfolk. These shorts usually ended up with Leontine being chased by her very angry victims. Her partner in crime in a couple of these shorts was Rosalie, who also got to star in her own films. This was one of my favourite screenings, partly because it successfully portrayed the “Nasty Women” theme, but also because it introduced me to two very funny women that I might not have ever seen otherwise!

The next screening of the day included another Norwegian documentary short about Maasai men and women. This was followed by Fante-Anne (Gypsy Anne), a Norwegian film from 1920. The film tells the story of a woman who falls in love with someone from a higher class than her. Their love is forbidden by the man’s strict mother. In an act of revenge, Anne sets fire to their farm. A farmhand who has always been in love with Anne, takes the blame for the fire and is sent to prison. Once the farmhand is released the two travel to America to start a new life together. It had a bittersweet feeling as the two were going to America to be in a place free from judgement and prejudice. I promise I won’t get any more political than that!

The evening screening consisted of a recently rediscovered fragment of a Louise Brooks short entitled Now We’re in the Air. This short told the story of two wartime pilots who uncover an enemy spy hiding out as a hot air balloonist in a circus camp. Although it was a fragment, it contained enough of the narrative to engaging, funny and exciting! The next film in the screening was called The Reckless Age. This charming film was about a man who takes out an insurance policy to make sure that his marriage to a wealthy heiress takes place as planned. The insurance company sends an agent to ensure that this marriage happens. The agent unknowingly meets the bride and the two fall in love at first sight. There are mistaken identities, a con game, and ultimately a happy ending for all the principles. This was a very funny film, and well worth seeking out!

schatten 300x225 1
schatten 300×225 1

The late-night screening was a true highlight of the festival for me! Schatten is a German expressionist silent film. It was hauntingly accompanied by Daan van den Hurk and Franks Bockius. One of the interesting things about Schatten was that it contained no intertitles. Everything that happened on the screen unfolded with no explanation. The plot of the film consisted of a husband and wife who throw a dinner party. The three male guests at the party all make advances towards the wife. A puppeteer knocks at the door and offers his entertainment. His performance consists of shadow puppetry thrown on the walls of the house. These shadows are then used to show the partygoers what would happen if they lived out their desires. I really enjoyed this film as I had no idea about the direction the narrative was going to go. It also felt like I was watching something almost forbidden. There was nothing explicitly shown, but the film created an uneasy atmosphere of dangerous sexual tension.

I completely fell in love with my time in Pordenone and really look forward to a future visit to the festival. It was great to be exposed to such a wide variety of films and in such a beautiful and relaxed atmosphere. Being surrounded by fellow cinephiles also added to the experience, and it was great to see some familiar faces.

All information about the films can be found on the festival website.

Pordenone Diaries – Day 2

Pordenone Diaries – Day 2

pordenone

Sunday was our first full day at the festival. The great thing about the festival in Pordenone is that there is such a variety of screenings. If a screening isn’t to your taste, you can still have a full day of interesting viewing. A festival pass allows you to go along to any screening that you want… it was such a stress-free experience. As this was my first time at the festival, I was trying to fit in everything that I could! Screenings start at 9 am and run into the late evening.

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Sunday morning began with a Norwegian film entitled Synnöve Solbakken (A Norwegian Lass). This was a film about a woman from a very religious family and her two would-be suitors. It features beautiful scenes of the Norwegian countryside. I found this film quite interesting as it the religious themes were quite heavily pronounced. Thorbjörn, one of the suitors, spends his youth constantly being tempted into trouble by one of the farmhands that works for his father. The farmhand is eventually sent away, but comes back to torment Thorbjörn later in the film. Because of this, Thorbjörn has a moment of redemption and forgiveness that is one of the highlights of the film. Piano accompaniment was provided by Donald Sosin.

This screening was quickly followed by the first of two events programmed around the idea of “Nasty Women.” This first event contained quite a few shorts about women subverting their role in a domestic environment… usually involving quite a bit of destruction! A few of the shorts in this screening were quite surreal. One short entitled Le Rêve des Marmitons was particularly strange. This short depicted some very lazy kitchen workers who are put into an enchanted sleep by a strange impish figure who then proceeds to lop off their hands! These hands are then put to work to complete the tasks of the workers. Such a weird film! I’ve included it below.

The afternoon screening that we attended was two Max Davidson shorts accompanied by two youth music ensembles. Previous Slapstick Festival guests might remember Pass the Gravy from a few years ago! Call of the Cuckoo featured quite a few famous faces including Laurel and Hardy. Don’t Tell Everything was a very funny short about a father who hides the fact that he has a son from his would-be rich girlfriend. The son dresses as a girl to pose as a maid, and a hilarious case of mixed up identity unfolds. I tried to find the film on YouTube, but haven’t been able to find it just yet. Instead, I’m putting Pass the Gravy below, because it is worth a revisit!

We ended the day with a documentary short and a Pola Negri film. The documentary featured the fishing techniques of the Kavirondo Tribe. The short featured some beautiful imagery of the tribes casting out their nets, but these were marred by the sensationalist language of the intertitles. Daan Van Den Hurk provided the dreamlike piano accompaniment for this short. The main film of the evening was Der Gelbe Schein (The Yellow Ticket) which featured the actress Pola Negri. This film told the story of a young woman who wants to study at a university in St. Petersburg. Because she is Jewish, her identity makes it difficult to attend this school. She poses as another woman to achieve her goals in education. The score for this film was quite unique to the other screenings we attended. It was mainly violin and piano, but also included singing and rhythmic vocalisations. The score was composed by Alicia Svigals, and was performed by Alicia Svigals and Marilyn Lerner.

All information about the films can be found on the festival website.

One more post coming soon about our last day!