Spellbound By Movies is going on a road trip this month! I’ll be flying out to Syracuse for my first and last Cinefest. I’ve always wanted to attend this film festival. Some fellow film fanatic friends have raved about the rarities and camaraderie they’ve enjoyed at Cinefest year after year. I could not miss its last year.
Cinefest was a formerly annual film festival run by Syracuse Cinephile Society. The group traces its origins back to a 1967 screening organized by a Phil Serling and a Sam Goldsman. The film festival grew out of the organization’s Monday night screening series when members decided to start a film convention. The first was held about 1980. That makes this year’s Cinefest the 35th edition.
The festival is ending for more than one reason. Attendance has been diminishing. The event needs to generate a certain amount of revenue from a paying audience and table vendors in order to pay operating expenses, like shipping films to and from archives. The Society and the festival’s audience have been aging. Organizers haven’t found younger members to take over running the festival, while former attendees became more comfortable watching once hard to find features and shorts on Turner Classic Movies and DVDs. The loss of the event’s former venue must have been a hard hit. The movie theatre where Cinefest used to be held converted to digital projectors.
I suspect due to this being the last Cinefest, its organizers will be surprised by how many will be in attendance, especially in the under sixty set. Social media has allowed so many of us film buffs to connect and share what we’re passionate about. That includes news of regional film festivals like Cinefest, that used to be spread word-of-mouth. I’ve seen tweets and Facebook and blog posts lamenting the festival’s loss or exulting over this year’s schedule. Let’s see if some angels come forward belatedly to carry on the Cinefest tradition.
In the meantime, I’ve been pouring over the festival’s schedule. Jam-packed is an understatement. Attending will be the equivalent of binge-watching. The schedule is stuffed with back-to-back screenings of films from the teens to mostly the thirties. This is the kind of schedule that hardcore early film fanatics crave, except for its breakneck pace. I’m very relieved to see there will be time for decent meal breaks! Check out the schedule in its entirety below. A special thanks goes to Patrick J. Picking for helpfully adding these notes and links to the schedule.
Thursday, March 19th
9:00 am – OUT ALL NIGHT – (1933) with Zazu Pitts, Slim Summerville, and Shirley Temple
10:15 am – BEST OF MOSTLY LOST III From the Library of Congress (1)
11:05 am – YELLOW FINGERS – (1926) – starring Olive Borden and Ralph Ince. This rarely seen silent film will be screened courtesy of The Museum Of Modern Art
1:15 pm – TOWER OF TREASURES, RKO TRAILERS Hosted by Ray Faiola
2:15 pm – LIFE IN THE RAW – (1933) UCLA Film And Television Archives will again be loaning Cinefest several rarely seen films made by Fox from the period between 1930 and 1933. Life In The Raw (1933) stars George O’Brien and Claire Trevor (3)
3:20 pm – THE LAST MAN ON EARTH – (1924) Fox film directed by John Blystone. Starring Earle Foxe. Print is courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art. (4)
4:30 pm – THE ROAD BACK – (1937) with John “Dusty” King, Richard Cromwell, Slim Summerville
8:00 pm – IT PAYS TO BE IGNORANT (1948) with Tom Howard
8:10 pm – KING OF THE KONGO, CHAPTER 10 (1929) With Boris Karloff
8:35 pm – LUCKY BEGINNERS (1935) Hal Roach All Stars
9:00 pm – THE RETURN OF PETER GRIMM – (1926) The Museum Of Modern Art will provide a print of the rarely revived silent version of “The Return Of Peter Grimm” (1926) produced by Fox Films and starring Alec B. Francis and Janet Gaynor. (4)
10:10 pm – CAPTAIN FLY-BY-NIGHT (1922) with Johnnie Walker, Shannon Day
11:15 pm – THE THIRD ALARM (1922) w/Johnnie Walker, Ralph Lewis, Ella Hall
Friday, March 20th
9:00 am – SERVICE STRIPES (1930) Vitaphone short with Joe Penner
9:10 am – MEN ON CALL – (1930) – stars Edmund Lowe, Mae Clarke and Warren Hymer. (courtesy of UCLA Film and Television Archives)
10:20 am – ME AND THE BOYS
10:30 am – DICK BANN’S HAL ROACH SHOW #1 – Hosted by Dick Bann. Read the notes HERE!
1:00 pm – STORY OF COLOR IN THE MOVIES Hosted by Eric Grayson
2:30 pm – PAINTED WOMAN (1932) with Spencer Tracy, Peggy Shannon (3)
3:40 pm – VITAGRAPH VARIETIES From the Library of Congress (1)
4:45 pm – SECOND FLOOR MYSTERY (1930) with Grant Withers, Loretta Young (3)
8:00 pm – BRIDE OF FINKLESTEIN (2015) Hosted by Michael Schlesinger
8:20 pm – A SONG IN THE DARK, More Dangerous Rhythms by Richard Barrios
9:35 pm – HEART TO HEART (1928) with Mary Astor, Lloyd Hughes (1)
10:40 pm – LUCRETIA LOMBARD (1923) with Irene Rich, Monte Blue
11:45 pm – RISKY BUSINESS (1939) – Remember “Okay America” the 1932 Universal film starring Lew Ayres that we screened at Cinefest back in 1991? Guess what? It was remade in 1939 with George Murphy, Dorthea Kent and everybody’s favorite, El Brendel. The rarely seen remake, Risky Business (1939, Universal) will be screened at Cinefest 35 next March
Saturday, March 21st
9:00 am – SMOKING GUNS (1934) – Smoking Guns (1934, Universal) was the last film made by Ken Maynard on his contract with Universal.
10:00 am – WELCOME DANGER! (1929) – the long unseen SILENT version of Harold Lloyd’s first talkie! With Harold Lloyd, Barbara Kent
12 Noon – THE DAWN OF TECHNICOLOR Early Technicolor Musicals
1:10 pm – FLORIDA STUDIO FILMS From the Library of Congress (1) Rob Stone and Steve Massa will present two programs of short comedies from the archives of The Library Of Congress at Cinefest 35. One show will spotlight the FLORIDA FUN FACTORIES and highlight the comedies shot down there in the teens. The program will include:
- AN EXPENSIVE VISIT – (1915) – Lubin starring Babe Hardy
- A BATH TUB ELOPEMENT – (1916) – Eagle Film starring Marcel Perez, with Louise Carver & Tom Murray
- A Vim made Pokes and Jabbs short, and others
2:15 pm – THE NEW KLONDIKE (1926) – Based on a short story by Ring Lardner and partially filmed in Florida, “The New Klondike” (1926, Paramount) was directed by Lewis Milestone and stars Thomas Meighan as a minor league ballplayer who gets mixed up with crooked land speculators in Florida. Our friends at Library of Congress will be providing the title to Cinefest 35 for screening next March. Note: the film is missing a bit of footage but those who have seen it, say that it will not effect your enjoyment of this rare title (1)
3:25 pm – SEA SORE (1933) with Arthur Tracy, Baby Rose Marie
3:45 pm – MY LIPS BETRAY (1933) – starring Lillian Harvey and John Boles.
4:50 pm – TESS OF THE STORM COUNTRY – (1914) with Mary Pickford, Harold Lockwood. New restoration.
8:00 pm – WE! WE! MARIE! (1930) with Slim Summerville, Eddie Gribbon
8:20 pm – GERRY ORLANDO COMMENTS
8:30 pm – TEA MAKING TIPS (1941)
8:45 pm – COLLEEN MOORE HOME MOVIES (1)
8:50 pm – SYNTHETIC SIN – (1929) The recently restored Colleen Moore film. Cinefest is grateful to so many people and archives who have made this screening possible and they will all be mentioned and thanked in the program book but we would like to mention here special thanks to Ned Price, Ron Hutchinson and Joe Yranski. This screening will be a highlight of the Syracuse Cinephile Society. If you have not seen the film at one of the recent screenings around the world, you will want to be at Cinefest for this special screening!
10:05 pm – THE DANGER GAME – (1918) Film Historian Richard Koszarski will introduce a new restoration of the long unseen Goldwyn romantic comedy filmed in Ft. Lee N.J. from 1918 “The Danger Game”. The film was directed by Harry Pollard and stars Madge Kennedy and Tom Moore.
11:10 pm – BABIES, THEY’RE WONDERFUL (1947) with Patsy Kelly
11:20 pm – THREE KISSES (1955) Paramount Topper
11:35 pm – THE BACK PAGE (1933) with Peggy Shannon, Russell Hopkin
Sunday, March 22nd
9:00 am – THE BIG BROADCAST – (1932) with Bing Crosby, Burns & Allen, Stu Erwin, Sharon Lynn
10:35 am – THE AUCTION (2015) Hosted by Leonard Maltin and George Read
12:00 pm – HISTORY & DEVELOPMENT OF THE 35MM PROJECTOR
12:30 pm – ONCE A SINNER – (1931) – starring Dorothy McKaill is on the schedule courtesy of UCLA Film And Television Archives
1:40 pm – CALGARY STAMPEDE (1925) with Hoot Gibson, Virginia Brown
2:35 pm – DICK BANN’S HAL ROACH SHOW #2 – Hosted by Dick Bann. Read the notes HERE!
3:40 pm – CODE OF THE SEA (1924) with Rod LaRocque, Jacqueline Logan
4:40 pm – THE SEA LION – (1921) “The Sea Lion” might not be as rare as it was when it was the first silent feature ever screened at the first Cinefest in 1981. It was loaned to Cinefest by legendary film collector and historian Gordon Berkow who always made available any film in his collection to Cinefest. To honor the memory of Gordon, we will be presenting several films from his collection at Cinefest 35. We thought it was apt to screen the exact same print of “The Sea Lion” thirty five years later at Cinefest 35.
(1) Print Courtesy of the Library of Congress
(2) Print Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
(3) Print Courtesy of UCLA Film Archives
(4) Print Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art
(5) Print Courtesy of the Mary Pickford Foundation and Paramount Pictures
(Films and starting times may be subject to change.)