One of the more unusual offerings of the annual Johannesburg International Mozart Festival is the live accompaniment of a silent movie by Paul Hanmer, pianist, and one of his jazz colleagues, this year Marcus Wyatt on sax. Paul Hanmer was the composer in residence for the JIMF some years ago when this concept was introduced. It has stayed a popular feature of the JIMF festival.
The JIMF theme this year is “Alla Turca” and there are two silent movie nights. The first is on Wednesday 4 February 2016 when we get The Thief of Bagdad, a 1924 American movie directed by Raoul Walsh, starring Douglas Fairbanks (not the Junior one). It tells the story of a thief who falls in love with the daughter of the Caliph of Bagdad. It is one of the great silent films and it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
The second is on Thursday 4 February 2016 and it is a particularly interesting movie, The Adventures of Prince Achmed. This movie was made in 1926, directed by the German Lotte Reiniger (and the uncredited Carl Koch). It is the first animated movie. The original frames were hand tinted but were sadly lost in the Battle of Berlin. The English had a copy in their Film Institute, and thus it survived.
These movie evenings are one of the great highlights of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival, a cutting edge experiment in one year that has gone on to become a much loved tradition for discerning music/movie audiences.
They are screened at The Bioscope in Maboneng. This is Joburg’s only independent movie house, and a treasure trove in interest and offbeat movies.