Beloit Film Fest presents Silent Film Showcase Feb. 20

From press release

BELOIT, Wis.—Two of the greatest comic actors of all time will highlight the most popular event of the annual Beloit International Film Festival, Feb. 18-21.

The Silent Film Showcase, Saturday, Feb. 20, at Beloit’s Eclipse Center, will feature four silent classics by Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. Accompanying the films, playing musical scores written for each film, will be the Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra (BJSO).

The four films are Cops and One Week by Keaton and The Immigrant and The Adventurer by Chaplin. According to BJSO Conductor and Music Director Robert Tomaro: “The films are suited as program companions for each other in comedic style, pacing and craft. The music by Ben Model is wonderfully suited for the films, drawing upon dance and popular modes from the ’20s, but never overshadowing or drawing attention away from the films.”

The Silent Film Showcase has been the centerpiece for BIFF since its inception. The program recently offered major films of the silent era like Metropolis and Wings. The music for earlier films has included compositions and arrangements by Tomaro and by other composers who have helped to renew interest in silent film.

BIFF Executive Director Rod Beaudoin said: “There is a purity to these early films that provides the foundation for the work that follows. The new music scores provide a freshness that is not distracting, but keeps us focused on the power of silent film to communicate. It is great to see generations together, older members recalling their youth, and kids and grandkids imagining what it must have been like.”

The Chaplin films date from 1917. The Immigrant is one of Chaplin’s greatest short films. In his famous clown role of the Little Tramp, Chaplin comes to America on a boat overcrowded with immigrants. On the voyage, Chaplin has fun with the rolling motion of the deck, from walking on board to eating soup. The Adventurer features some of Chaplin’s most irresistible pantomime. He plays an escaped convict on the run from prison guards. He falls into favor with a wealthy family after he saves a young lady from drowning, but her suitor does everything he can to have Chaplin apprehended.

The Keaton classic, Cops from 1922, has been summarized as “One nice boy. One cruel girl. Ten thousand cops.” Keaton tries to win the hand of the mayor’s daughter, only to wind up in jail. He attempts to rehabilitate himself, only to find himself, once again, pursued by the cops. One Week, created in 1920, is a cautionary tale about building a house. Given a build-it-yourself house kit and a piece of land for his wedding, Keaton confronts sabotage and accidents in his attempt to create a home.

The BJSO will present the music of Ben Model, who has served as resident silent film accompanist for The Museum of Modern Art in New York. He has played for silents in many other venues around the U.S. and has recorded numerous scores for silent film DVDs. He composes and performs in a style that is both evocative of the silent era and aware of a contemporary, and younger, audience’s music and film styles.

Doors open at 6 p.m. Prior to the 7:30 p.m. screening, the annual BJSO Silent Auction will take place in the Atrium of the Eclipse Center. Artworks, film-related items and offerings from local merchants and restaurants will be available to support the orchestra.

Under the theme “comedy taken seriously,” moviegoers will be greeted in the Atrium by community organizations that have taken a lead in fund-raising for Haitian relief. It will be an opportunity to learn about these groups and to make a contribution.

Cost for the event is $20 for adults; $15 for students with ID; and $10 for children 6-18.

Some events sell out quickly, especially Top Ten Films and those denoted with the filmmaker on premises, so be sure to contact the box office to reserve your tickets.

Complete program and tickets for sale online at

From the Feb. 17-23, 2010 issue

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