Director: Buster Keaton
Length: 107 min
Comedy | Romance | War
Date: Saturday, February 19, 2011
Location: Eclipse Center (Center Court)
Price: $20 Adults, $15 Students with ID, $10 Children 6-18
6:00 pm – Pre-event Reception/Silent Auction
7:30 pm – Film Starts
Since its inception, the most popular single element of The Beloit International Film Festival has been the Saturday evening M&I Bank and M&I Wealth Management Silent Film Showcase. Sold-out audiences have frequently included film festival executives from around the country on- hand to see how BIFF creates the program so they might duplicate it at their festivals. This annual celebration of early 20th century film is highlighted by a performance of an original or newly conceived musical score performed by the Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra with music director Robert Tomaro.
This year, on BIFF Saturday, Feb. 19, at 7:30 p.m. at the Eclipse Center in Beloit, BIFF and the BJS will once again collaborate on a presentation of one of the classic comedies of the period. Featuring Buster Keaton, one of the greatest comedic actors of all time, this year’s showcase film will be The General, first released in 1927 and co-directed and co-written by Keaton. It is considered a masterpiece today, Keaton’s finest production and possibly the best “chase film” ever made.
The story is a classic civil war tale of a Confederate engineer pursuing his locomotive, The General, after it is stolen by Union soldiers. The film includes romance with the lovely Annabelle Lee, and fierce battles as the train chase first goes north and then south. The film concludes with the most dramatic and expensive train crash sequence filmed to that time.
“To join forces with this amazing film genius is a wonderful experience,” says Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra music director and conductor Robert Tomaro. “The 35 member orchestra will be using a score by Carl Davis, a contemporary British composer and conductor. We have used Davis’ work before, most recently in the musical score for the silent film classic Wings, which we performed in 2009. Davis has developed a cottage industry creating scores for the old ‘silents,’ and his music is always challenging. His score for The General involves a lot of unusual musical effects and interesting instrumentation.”
“We have presented some of the greatest films of the silent era in recent years,”, “and we have noted that audiences love the comedies. This is one of the greatest ever put on film and the BJS score adds a rich new element.”
“It is so exciting every year to watch the generations come together and laugh—or cry—at films that are almost a century old. We have members of the audience who have a vague recollection of the silent era and Nickelodeon, with their short grainy films, and they are often seated next to kids for whom silent film is an odd and inspiring new concept. But the appreciation of the genius of Buster Keaton and his slapstick comedy and sight gags is universal.”
The Silent Film Showcase will be preceded by the annual Beloit Janesville Symphony silent auction.
A special treat to open the evening program will be a showing of a short documentary about the Symphony’s exciting composing Kids outreach program for area elementary school students. This past spring, area students worked with Grammy-nominated composer Greg Gerard and Maestro Tomaro to create a musical score for an animated film entitled “The Astronaut,” created by Beloit College students Phillip Barrett and Kenny Baumgartner. The “composing kids” will be introduced and honored as the BJS offers the first public performance of the five minute work.