Saturday, January 14, 2012

Frako Loden Only Has Two Eyes

It's impossible for any pair of eyes to view all of Frisco Bay's worthwhile film screenings. I'm so pleased that a number of local filmgoers have let me post their repertory/revival screening highlights of 2011. An index of participants is found here.

The following list comes from critic and teacher Frako Loden, who writes for, The Evening Class, and elsewhere.

Al Momia (The Night of Counting the Years) (Shadi Abdel Salam, 1969) - Pacific Film Archive showed this magnificent, mysterious film about an Egyptian clan that has been surreptitiously selling off mummy treasures.

The Battle of Chile Parts I, II, III (Patricio Guzmán, 1975-78) - Another PFA-hosted masterwork, part of the SFIFF, that had me enthralled for over four hours.

Went the Day Well? (Alberto Cavalcanti, 1942) - At last I got to see this weird "what if" propaganda about Nazis infiltrating an English village.

Every year the San Francisco Silent Film Festival leaves me with the most vivid memories of films gone by. Il Fuoco (The Fire) (Giovanni Pastrone, 1915) was my first big-screen look at the astonishing Italian diva Pina Menichelli that ignited my fascination with Black Romanticism. The Great White Silence (Herbert G. Ponting, 1924) documented Capt. Robert Falcon Scott's doomed expedition to the South Pole. The orphan film Origin of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” (1909) reduced me to helpless laughter thanks to Stephen Horne's piano accompaniment. Lois Weber's 1916 social-problem Shoes was a revelation. And Upstream (1927) could have been a completely mediocre film for all I cared--I was just thrilled to see a John Ford film thought to be lost forever.

Spartacus (Stanley Kubrick, 1960) - The Jewish Film Festival had Kirk Douglas on the Castro Theatre stage for a brisk and hilarious Q&A.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the California Film Institute continued their "A Century Ago" series with a half-dozen films from 1911 at the Rafael. I'm hooked as of this year.

My first visit to Telluride this summer happened to be guest-programmed by Brazilian musico-political legend Caetano Veloso. His choice of the Les Blank-style documentary Nordeste: Cordel, Repente e Canção (Tânia Quaresma, 1975), about the vernacular arts of Northeastern Brazil, was one of the most rewarding screenings there. I also finally got to see the triumphant ending of the restored, fully tinted A Trip to the Moon (Fr: Georges Melies, 1902) as the climax of another great Serge Bromberg program.

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