Library of Congress Festival of Film and Sound Announces Full Lineup of Rare Cinema and Special Guests
Festival Runs June 15-18 at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center;
Festival Passes Available at AFI.com/Silver
The Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center is announcing the full lineup of rare cinema and special guests to be featured at the inaugural Library of Congress Festival of Film and Sound. The new four-day film festival will be held June 15-18 in association with the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center at the American Film Institute’s beautifully restored 1938 art deco theater in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Classic film lovers from across the country will join together for a weekend of screenings, discussions and presentations at the inaugural Library of Congress Festival of Film and Sound. The festival will celebrate the Library’s rich moving image and recorded sound collections. A four-day retrospective of films from the 1920s through the early 1950s, the festival will be a place for fans, archivists and historians to see 35mm prints of rare films from the renowned collections of the Library of Congress and other top film archives, meet new friends and discuss films and film history.
The festival’s theme of “Music and Sound” includes two presentations with Oscar-winning motion picture sound designer and sound mixer Ben Burtt, and a program about composer Max Steiner by his biographer, Steven C. Smith. The rare films shown in 35mm include W.C. Fields in “So’s Your Old Man” (1926), “Submarine” (1928) from director Frank Capra, James Cagney in “Ceiling Zero” (1936), director Dorothy Arzner’s adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Craig’s Wife” (1936), the final silent film of Douglas Fairbanks, “The Iron Mask” (1929), and the newly restored print by the Library and Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation of the lost classic, “Memory Lane” (1926).
Featuring many titles currently unavailable on home media or streaming services, the festival will showcase restored archival 35mm prints from the Library’s collections and other preeminent archives, as well 4K digital presentations of new restorations and rarities. All silent films will feature live musical accompaniment. This will be the first film festival devoted to showcasing the national library’s film collections.
Festival passes are now available at AFI.com/Silver for $150. Passes grant admission to all festival programs taking place June 15-18, 2023.
Featured guests at the festival will include:
- Ben Burtt, a four-time Oscar winner, including for the creation of the alien, creature and robot voices featured in “Star Wars” (1977) and for Sound Effects Editing for “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981); for Sound Effects Editing for “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982) and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989). He also earned nominations in the Sound Mixing category for “Return of the Jedi” (1983) and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”; in Sound Effects Editing for “Return of the Jedi,” “Willow” (1988) and “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” (1999), and for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing for “WALL-E” (2008).
- Maya S. Cade, the creator and curator of Black Film Archive – a first-of-its-kind digital archive likened to be the definitive history of Black cinema by Slate.com – and the inaugural Connecting Communities Digital Initiative scholar-in-residence at the Library of Congress. Cade is the only person in history to win multiple esteemed special critic awards in the same season, receiving special distinctions by the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Society of Film Critics, and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists.
- María Elena de las Carreras, a Fulbright scholar and film critic from Argentina. She has a Ph.D. in film and television studies from UCLA. She is the editor with Jan-Christopher Horak of “Hollywood Goes Latin” (2019). She is a lecturer in film history and esthetics at California State University, Northridge. Since 2014 she has conducted research and interviews for the Visual History Program of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She is a regular collaborator of the Latin American Cinemateca of Los Angeles.
- Tracey Goessel, author of the acclaimed biography “The First King of Hollywood: The Life of Douglas Fairbanks” (2015). She founded the Los Angeles–based Film Preservation Society in 2014 and leads a multi-archive project to digitally preserve and restore the Biograph films of D.W. Griffith.
- Randy Haberkamp, executive vice president of the Library, Archive and SciTech for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Haberkamp has direct oversight of the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library, the Academy Film Archive, the Academy's Science and Technology Council, and the Academy's Scientific and Technical Awards. is the founder of The Silent Society, a silent film preservation and appreciation group that has presented and preserved silent films in Los Angeles for more than 35 years.
- Richard Koszarski, a film historian. He was formerly the chief curator at the American Museum of the Moving Image in New York. He was the founder of Film History: An International Journal, and served as editor-in-chief from 1987 to 2012. He is a professor emeritus of English and film at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
- Jon Mirsalis, a scientist, film historian and silent film accompanist who has been creating silent film scores for over 40 years. He has performed at many venues throughout the U.S. including the George Eastman House, the Library of Congress, the Castro Theater in San Francisco, the Cleveland Cinematheque, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Pacific Film Archive.
- Steven C. Smith, an award-winning author and four-time Emmy™ nominated documentarian. His books include “A Heart at Fire's Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann” and “Music by Max Steiner: The Epic Life of Hollywood's Most Influential Composer.” Steven has produced over 200 documentaries on the arts for such networks as TCM, History Channel, A&E, and National Geographic.
- David Stenn, whose writing-producing credits for television span from “Hill Street Blues” to “Boardwalk Empire” and also include “21 Jump Street,” “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “The L Word.” Stenn's first biography, “Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild,” became a national bestseller. It was followed by “Bombshell: The Life and Death of Jean Harlow,” cited by the New York Times as one of the year's notable books.
Festival of Film and Sound Schedule of Screenings and Presentations
(Find full film descriptions on the festival’s website.)
Thursday, June 15
6:45 p.m. – “So’s Your Old Man” (1926) in 35mm
Introduction by film historian Richard Koszarski; live piano accompaniment by Jon Mirsalis
In this hilarious comedy, W.C. Fields stars as Samuel Bisbee, a small-town inventor and local embarrassment who is convinced that his invention of an unbreakable car windshield will set him up for life. Directed by Gregory La Cava. B&W. 71 min. Not Rated. 35mm print from the Library of Congress, made from the original nitrate camera negative.
- Preceded by “Belle of Samoa” (1929). Advertised as the first musical comedy of the screen, "Belle of Samoa" is an entrancing mix of authentic Samoan culture, Broadway musical revue and vaudeville. Directed by Marcel Silver. B&W. 18 minutes. Not Rated. Premiere of a new DCP digital restoration from the Library of Congress.
9:15 p.m. – “Frenchman’s Creek” (1944).
Introduction by film historian Maria Elena de las Carreras
Noblewoman Dona St. Columb (Joan Fontaine), escaping from a loveless marriage and on the run from her husband, leaves London for the coast in Cornwall. She encounters a romantic French pirate, portrayed by Mexican actor Arturo de Córdova. Their brief, idyllic romance is interrupted by the return of the husband and slimy Lord Rockingham (Basil Rathbone). Directed by Mitchell Leisen. Technicolor. 112 minutes. Not Rated. 4K digital restoration by Universal Pictures in collaboration with The Film Foundation.
Friday, June 16
9 a.m. – “The Iron Mask” (1929) in 35mm
Introduction by Tracey Goessel, author of “The First King of Hollywood: The Life of Douglas Fairbanks.”
Douglas Fairbanks’ final silent film is a rollicking and bittersweet swashbuckling action film, the sequel to his hit “The Three Musketeers” (1921). Directed by Allan Dwan. B&W. 95 min. 35mm. Not Rated. Restored 35mm print from The Museum of Modern Art.
- Preceded by “Umpa” (1933). Introduced by Rob Stone, Library of Congress. A delightful, unique musical comedy entirely in song (or rhyme with underscore) with dancing. Vaudeville and Broadway song-and-dance man Jack Osterman stars as the patient with "umpa" symptoms, and Gloria Shea and Lois January play his two nurses. B&W. 16 min. Not Rated.
- Followed by “The Soundman” (1950) in 35mm. Introduced by Ben Burtt. The pivotal role of the sound engineer and sound mixer is highlighted in this short film. B&W. 10 mins. Not Rated. 35mm print from the Library of Congress.
12:30 p.m. – Special Presentation: Histories Motion Picture Sound Effects with Ben Burtt.
Where do motion picture sound effects come from? Many sound effects such as thunder, the ricochet of a rifle bullet, or a scream have become iconic. In the classic age, film studios had libraries of sound effects, so if a filmmaker needed a squealing car tire or train whistle, it could be found on the shelf and readily incorporated into a film. We subconsciously recognize these sounds because they have become movie language. In this remarkable presentation, four-time Oscar-winning motion picture sound designer and sound mixer Ben Burtt presents some of those familiar sounds and traces their origins and creative meaning back to specific films or a studio sound effects library.
- Preceded by Hollywood Home Movies #1. Presented by Randy Haberkamp, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Rare footage selected by the Academy Film Archive from the private collections of Hollywood stars and directors. 10 min. Not Rated.
- Followed by “Spy Smasher Strikes Back” (1942/2022) Introduced by Ben Burtt. The East Coast premiere of Burtt’s 2022 re-edit of the 1942 12-chapter Republic Pictures serial “Spy Smasher,” based on a popular comic book character. Directed by William Witney. Based on “Spy Smasher” by C.C. Beck and Bill Parker. Cast: Kane Richmond, Marguerite Chapman. B&W. 94 min. Not Rated. DCP digital presentation.
4 p.m. – “Dark Manhattan” (1937).
Introduction by Maya Cade, founder of Black Film Archive.
Leading man Ralph Cooper also co-produced this ambitious all-Black film about a ruthless gangster’s rise in the numbers racket. Directed by Harry Fraser. B&W. 70 mins. Not Rated. DCP digital presentation. Restored in 2023 by the Library of Congress in cooperation with the Academy Film Archive.
7 p.m. – “Memory Lane” (1926) in 35mm
Introduction by David Pierce, Library of Congress; live piano accompaniment by Jon Mirsalis
A poignant story of missed opportunities from master director John M. Stahl. This beautifully acted tale of youthful romance coming up against real world practicalities provides a showcase for actress Eleanor Boardman. Directed by John M. Stahl; B&W; 78 mins; Not Rated. 35mm print. Restored by the Library of Congress and The Film Foundation. Funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation.
- Preceded by “Gerald McBoing Boing” (1950) in 35mm. Introduction by Stacie Seifrit-Griffin, Library of Congress. The initial release from the influential United Productions of America cartoon studio changed the animation business forever. The film won the 1950 Oscar for Best Animated Short and was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1995. Directed by Robert Cannon; 7 min. Color. Not Rated. 35mm print from the Library of Congress. Restored in 2017 from the original Technicolor negative.
9 p.m. – “Ceiling Zero” (1936) in 35mm. Introduction by film historian Jon Mirsalis. This long-unavailable Howard Hawks drama stars James Cagney and Pat O’Brien in a tense story of air mail pilots in the struggling early years of commercial aviation. Directed by Howard Hawks; B&W. 95 min. Not Rated. 35mm print from the Library of Congress.
- Preceded by “Caldonia” (1945). Introduction by Maya Cade, founder of Black Film Archive. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame called musician Louis Jordan "the supreme ruler of '40s R&B,” and this film captures the energy and enthusiasm of his live performances. Directed by William Forest Crouch; Cast: Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five. B&W. 18 min. Not Rated. Digital. Restored in 2022 by the Library of Congress.
Saturday, June 17
9 a.m. – “Submarine” (1928) in 35mm
Introduction and live piano accompaniment by Jon Mirsalis
Before his famous comedies in the 1930s, Frank Capra directed this love triangle set against a Navy background, where a potential disaster places duty over loyalty. Directed by Frank Capra; B&W. 95 min. Not Rated. 35mm print from the British release negative from the Library of Congress
- Preceded by FOX Movietone News (1927). Introduced by Randy Haberkamp, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Voices in the newsreels propelled Movietone’s sound-on-film process. “Lindbergh’s Flight from N.Y. to Paris” (1927) and “Voices of Italy” (1927). 24 min total. DCP digital presentation. DCP digital presentation. From The Museum of Modern Art.
- Followed by “A Cry For Help” (1912). Introduction by Tracey Goessel, Film Preservation Society. Under the direction of D.W. Griffith, “A Cry for Help” is a rich, fulfilling drama with a top cast including Lionel Barrymore and Lillian Gish. Directed by D.W. Griffith; B&W. Not Rated. 14 min. DCP digital presentation. Premiere of new restoration from Film Preservation Society.
1 p.m. – Special Presentation: A Conversation with Ben Burtt, Oscar- winning Sound Designer
Four-time Oscar-winning sound mixer, designer and editor Ben Burtt will participate in an on-stage Q&A about his motion picture career featuring excerpts from many of the iconic films on which he worked. Burtt will discuss the inspiration and creation of the sound and voice effects that have become iconic in American cinema including the voice of “Wall-E,” the sounds of the lightsaber and Darth Vader’s breathing from “Star Wars,” and the crack of Indiana Jones’ whip. Burtt received a Special Achievement Oscar for the creation of the alien, creature and robot voices featured in “Star Wars” (1977) and for Sound Effects Editing for “Raiders of the Los Ark” (1981). He also won Oscars for Sound Effects Editing for “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982) and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” (1989).
- Followed by “The Phantom Empire - Chapter 1” (1935). Introduction by sound designer Ben Burtt. In the only science-fiction western serial with songs, singing cowboy Gene Autry discovers an advanced civilization below his ranch. Directed by Otto Brower, Reeves Eason. Not Rated. DCP digital presentation. Library of Congress.
3:45 p.m. – “Spring Parade” (1940) in 35mm.
Introduction by film historian David Stenn
Box office singing sensation Deanna Durbin hit her stride as a farm girl visiting a romanticized pre-World War I Vienna in search of her dreams. Directed by Henry Koster. B&W. 90 min. Not Rated. 35mm print from the Library of Congress.
- Preceded by Hollywood Home Movies #2. Presented by Randy Haberkamp, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Rare footage selected by the Academy Film Archive from the private collections of Hollywood stars. 10 min. Not Rated.
7 p.m. – “Call Her Savage” (1932) in 35mm.
Introduction by film historian David Stenn, author of "Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild"
Iconic “It girl” Clara Bow left the 1920s behind with this torrid story about a Texas debutante with a wild temper and wicked ways. One of the raciest movies ever to come out of Hollywood, this lurid film is filled with melodrama and debauchery, and is one of the definitive pre-Code films that led to the censorship of American cinema just two years later. Directed by John Francis Dillon. Screen play by Edwin Burke, based on the novel by Tiffany Thayer. B&W. 90 min. Not Rated. Restored 35mm print from The Museum of Modern Art.
9:15 p.m. – “All That Money Can Buy” (1941) in 35mm.
Introduction by Steven C. Smith, author of "A Heart at Fire's Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann"
Set in rural America in the 1840s, “All That Money Can Buy” follows a desperate farmer who sells his soul to the satanic Mr. Scratch (a gleeful Walter Huston) for seven years of prosperity. As other elements of his life unravel, he turns to famed congressman and orator Daniel Webster (Edward Arnold) to argue for the return of his soul. Directed by William Dieterle. Screenplay by Stephen Vincent Benet and Dan Totheroh, based on the story by Stephen Vincent Benet. Music by Bernard Herrmann. B&W. 107 min. Not Rated. New 35mm restoration from the UCLA Film & Television Archive and The Film Foundation.
Sunday, June 18
9 a.m. – “Johanna Enlists” (1918)
Introduction by film historian Richard Koszarski; live piano accompaniment by Andrew Simpson
An atypical film for Mary Pickford, this comedy-drama focused on the impact of the first world war on the homefront. The quiet life of farmgirl Johanna (Pickford in a restrained performance) is uprooted when a battalion of soldiers set up camp nearby. Pickford Film Corporation. Artcraft Pictures Corporation. Directed by William Desmond Taylor. Screen play by Frances Marion, from a story by Rupert Hughes. Photographed by Charles Rosher. 64 min. B&W. Not Rated. DCP digital presentation. New digital restoration by the Mary Pickford Foundation.
10:30 a.m. – “Craig’s Wife” (1936) in 35mm.
Introduction by film historian Maria Elena de las Carreras
Pioneering director Dorothy Arzner made one of her finest films based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a strong-willed woman whose focus on control over her family leads her to risk everything she holds dear. Rosalind Russell brilliantly portrays the title role with a supporting cast that includes John Boles, Billie Burke, Jane Darwell and Thomas Mitchell. Directed by Dorothy Arzner. Screen play by Mary C. McCall Jr. based on the play by George Kelly. B&W. 75 min. Not Rated. 35mm print from the Library of Congress.
1 p.m. – Special Presentation: “Max Steiner and the Hollywood Sound” by Steven C. Smith, author of “Music by Max Steiner: The Epic Life of Hollywood’s Most Influential Composer”
24-time Oscar-nominee Max Steiner created the sound of Hollywood film music with such screen classics as “King Kong,” “Casablanca, and “Now, Voyager,” establishing the rules of scoring still used today. The presentation includes Steiner’s creative struggles and interactions with producers and stars.
- Followed by: “Melody Cruise” (1933) in 35mm. A delightful pre-Code musical comedy featuring rhyming dialogue over musical underscore. Directed by Mark Sandrich. B&W. 77 mins. Not Rated. New 35mm print from the Library of Congress
3:45 p.m. – “The Lady” (1925)
Introduction by film historian Richard Koszarski; live piano accompaniment by Jon Mirsalis
Actor-turned-director Frank Borzage derived a career-best performance from actress Norma Talmadge in this maternal melodrama. Directed by Frank Borzage. B&W. 90 min. Not Rated. DCP digital presentation. U.S. premiere of a new DCP restoration from the Library of Congress restoration.
- Preceded by Hollywood Home Movies #3. Presented by Randy Haberkamp, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Rare footage selected by the Academy Film Archive from the private collections of Hollywood stars. 10 min. Not Rated.
7 p.m. – “Carne de Cabaret” (1931).
Introduction by film historian Maria Elena de las Carreras
Best remembered for the Spanish-language “Drácula” (1931), Mexican actress Lupita Tovar stars as a dance hall girl trying to navigate in a man’s world. Directed by William Christy Cabana. Dialog Director: Eduardo Arozamena. B&W. 97 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. Not Rated. DCP digital presentation. Premiere of new digital restoration from the Library of Congress.
9:15 p.m. – “State Secret” (1950).
Introduction by film historian Jon Mirsalis
A terrific, dark film noir starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as a doctor brought to an Eastern European country where he is forced to go on the run when he learns a secret that could bring down the government. Directed by Sidney Gilliat. UK. B&W. 106 min. Not Rated. Digital presentation.
To buy festival passes visit: AFI.com/Silver.
About the Library of Congress:
The Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center is headquartered at the Library’s Packard Campus in Culpeper, Virginia, with its Moving Image and Recorded Sound research centers in Washington, D.C. The Packard Campus is a state-of-the-art facility that acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of film, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings (loc.gov/avconservation). It is home to more than 9.2 million collection items.
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. www.loc.gov
About the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center:
The AFI Silver and Cultural Center is one of the nation’s premier film theatres, building an appreciation of the art and artists through exploring and celebrating new and classic films and filmmakers from around the globe. The AFI Silver offers a year-round program of the best in American and international cinema, featuring a dynamic mix of retrospectives, special events, tributes, on-stage guest appearances, specialty first-run movies, festivals, premieres and education and community-based programs in a theatrical setting of the highest standards. Anchored by the stunningly restored 1938 Silver Theatre, the three-screen AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center is a state-of-the-art film and digital media exhibition venue that serves as a national model for preserving and honoring our shared film and film-going heritage.
Located in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, in the vibrant Washington, D.C., metro area, the AFI Silver provides ready access to restaurants, hotels, the D.C. Metro, and Dulles, Reagan National and BWI airports for local, national and international audiences. There are numerous restaurants within walking distance of the theater and several nearby hotels. Inexpensive municipal parking is free on the weekends. For more details, visit AFI.com/Silver.
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