Northern Silent Film Festival 2023Bringing film and music to Morecambe and beyond
Morecambe Winter Gardens comes alive with music and film to launch Northern Silent Film Festival 2023.
Northern Silent Film Festival takes on a new form for its latest edition, which runs throughout October 2023.
Formerly known as Yorkshire Silent Film Festival, the festival has rebranded and expanded its remit, and now officially serves the whole of the North as the region’s primary purveyors of new music with film. The 2023 edition sees the festival embrace their new region-wide role with screenings set to take place in cinemas, theatres, music venues and more - from Kendal to Hull, and from Chester to Newcastle.
The 2023 festival kicks off with an all-day celebration of film and music in Morecambe on Sunday 1 October. For their opening events, Northern Silents return to the stunning setting of Morecambe Winter Gardens. The town’s Grade II listed Victorian marvel (pictured above) previously hosted the premiere of Northern Silents’ 2022 production Echoes of the North, and boasts a grand auditorium that provides the ideal backdrop for an evening of early 20th century entertainment.
The Morecambe programme pays apt homage to the Winter Gardens’ rich history as a music and variety venue. It brings together all-time classics of silent comedy, an under-appreciated British gem and a fresh take on one of Hollywood’s favourite stories of scandal as you’ve never heard it before.
A trio of Buster Keaton shorts starts the day, with live accompaniment from Will Pound (harmonicas and accordions) and Jonny Best (piano). Keaton, a titan of American silent comedy, then makes way for Walter Forde - the British music hall performer-turned-filmmaker. Now best remembered for his work in the UK studio system throughout the 30s and 40s, Forde first came to prominence as a silent comedy star in the late-20s. Would You Believe It! - one of Forde’s last outings in front of the camera - is accompanied by Jonny Best on piano.
The festival’s opening night gala features a special presentation of Cecil B. DeMille’s Chicago - the original cinematic outing for jazz-loving murderess Roxie Hart, which predates its Oscar-winning musical namesake by 75 years. Chicago will be accompanied by a four-piece band playing a jazz-style score featuring songs from the 1920s and 30s. Accompaniment comes from Jonny Best (piano), Ben McCabe (percussion), Susannah Simmons (violin) and Neil Diffley (banjo/guitar).
Film Hub North is pleased to support Northern Silent Film Festival 2023 with National Lottery funding through our Film Exhibition Fund.
Our funding goes towards the festival’s launch events in Morecambe, with support available to help Northern Silents transform the Winter Gardens into a fully-fledged cinema and music venue. This work includes the installation of a 35mm projector, in partnership with the Projected Picture Trust, for an analogue presentation of Would You Believe It!
Northern Silent Film Festival continues across the region throughout October. You can explore the full festival line-up over on the Northern Silents website.
Northern Silent Film Festival 2023 is supported by National Lottery funding through our Film Exhibition Fund.
Lead image: Northern Silents at Morecambe Winter Gardens.
Credit: Timm Cleasby.