Lights! Camera! Shhhhhh…!

On Saturday night the San Luis Obispo Masonic Lodge filled with people – some dressed in feathers and sequins, others dressed in the typical laid-back SLO style. What brought them together was anything but typical – a silent film screening, with live orchestra accompaniment. The SLO International Film Festival screened Mary Pickford’s silent comedy “Daddy Long Legs” as the last film in their “coming of age” series. The film was shown in the main hall of the Lodge and was scored with an original composition by Maria Newman, who played alongside six other members of the Malibu Silent Film Orchestra. The evening began with a silent auction complete with period-themed cocktails and costumed volunteers. The atmosphere was very Great Gatsby.

The film itself is about a young orphan who is sent to college by a rich benefactor. The experience was interesting. I was most intrigued by the live accompaniment of the film. I expected more subtitling, but the dialogue came in very small doses via on-screen quotes and narratives. The music is what really helped keep your interest in what was happening on screen. The way Newman conveyed emotion through the composition and included sound effects to underscore actions on screen was truly impeccable. It’s no wonder – she is the daughter of multi-Oscar winning composer, Alfred Newman, and her incredibly talented musical family includes Thomas and Randy Newman.

This event is only one example of all of the great events the SLO International Film Festival hosts each year. Their main festival is coming up March 10-15, 2015, but check out their website to see what else they have in store year round.

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