Our Mission Statement

Bristol Silents aims to raise awareness, knowledge and appreciation of Silent Film amongst the film going public by presenting as wide a range of Silent films as possible. We also aim to provide educational programmes designed to increase understanding and appreciation of this unique art form.

Silent film screenings can suffer from poor quality prints, sometimes with sub-standard or totally inappropriate musical accompaniments and often the films can be shown at the wrong speed. In addition the historical/social context and conditions of the film may not be known, so audiences may struggle to understand the action and read the nature of the film.

We aim to provide an authentic experience of Silent Cinema by:

Film Selection and Programming: Choosing appropriate features and programming with the view of establishing a long-term audience which includes complete novices & passionate silent film aficionados alike.

Education: Providing accurate, well researched and presented handouts pre-screening & organising events with speakers who can put the film in context &, if possible, showing relevant documentaries about the film or director in question. We also aim to provide silent film educational courses too & involve all members of the community in these. For instance we have joined with Watershed to bring silent film to children through their Cinekids strand.

Film Speed: Films will be shown at the correct speed and ideally a speed control device will be provided by cinemas for accurate projection; too slow and a film becomes laborious and dull, too fast and the action becomes farcical.

Print quality: Every effort will be made to acquire, within financial constraints, the best available print using our extensive knowledge of archives and private collectors. Where the quality of the print is compromised information will be given to the audience to that effect explaining that such is the case.

Accompaniments: Musical accompaniments will be provided as near to the director’s original intention as possible, taking into account financial constraints, the venue, the audience and available prints. Where a live piano accompaniment is the most appropriate, ideally only musicians with extensive understanding of the silent medium will be invited to perform.

Where appropriate and affordable especially composed recorded scores will be used in preference to older synchronised scores that can be of very poor quality. On several occasions we have also commissioned & been involved in the commissioning of new live scores to accompany some of our favourite films.

Celebration: We aim to bring these films to new audiences and make the experience of viewing them a special cinematic event. Wherever possible experts and enthusiasts in the field will be invited to contribute in the form of talks/discussions prior to (or following) the film and we will accompany such with appropriate clips &/or creative displays of silent film memorabilia.

We have extensive knowledge of the silent era and have many contacts in the world of silent cinema; such as celebrities who share our passion in silent film, other film societies, silent film historians, film studies lecturers and film score composers who can, we hope, all contribute positively to all the live Silent Cinema events we stage.

Publicity: Our main goal & indeed our raison d’être is to raise the profile & awareness of silent film. We have over the previous decade built a reputation for quality Silent Cinema events both in the West & nationally, not only for ourselves but also for associated cinemas & other arts organisations with whom we’ve collaborated, such as Watershed, The Barbican in London, Colston Hall, Festival of Idea’s, The Arnolfini Gallery & Bristol Musuem amongst others.

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