What is Silents Now?

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Silents Now brings back into circulation little-known films from the silent era and helps them give delight to new audiences in new ways.

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Silents Now works with arts cinemas, festivals, film archives, actors, theatre companies, film-makers, musicians, broadcasters and sites of interest.

Through doing so, it invites contemporary audiences to rediscover some touching, funny, provocative and beautiful works of cinema from another age.

What inspired it?

Judith Buchanan Director Silents NowSilents Now Director, Professor Judith Buchanan, writes:

Silents Now emerged from a very simple desire to share the fun, the beauty and the significant interest of the film archive with others.

Viewing silent films in archives across the world as part of my academic research has always held its own private delights for me.  The cans of film arrive from cool storage and then I am left alone to thread up the film on a Steenbeck (or other flatbed editor) in a private viewing room. The puttering sound of the WTfilm passing reel to reel, the flickering light and the encounter with a cast of long-gone actors form part of the significant aesthetic, cultural and emotional pleasure of the business of viewing.

And then there are the films themselves. Witty, whacky, experimental, daring, thought-provoking and often visually lovely – and speaking so piercingly to us of human experience across a chasm of time. These are films that all too often few others have seen or are ever likely to see.

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It seemed a great shame that others were not also able to enjoy some of the particular wonders of the films unspooling before me.

And so it is that seeing other people now enjoying these remarkable films through Silents Now shows, talks and workshops – learning about them, responding warmly and wittily to them and getting creatively involved in them too – has significantly enhanced my own pleasure in them also. These films are part of our collective cultural heritage and are much better shared.