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Silent films get a voice

By Alix Norman

Fantasia is probably one of the most-liked and best-known filmsof all time. Despite the fact it was released more than 70 years ago, it’s still considered a classic enjoyed by all (who could forget Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring translating on screen to an atmospheric depiction of the Earth’s beginnings?). And there’s a reason for this: the marrying of excellent music and wonderful images is always a draw; in many ways it’s the music that makes the film. Just try watching a horror movie on mute, or a moving scene without the volume on low, and you’ll immediately realise the power of an excellent soundtrack!

This powerful chemistry between music and film is to be the focus of the latest Pharos Arts Foundation series, entitled enLIVE. Over the three days from January 27 to January 29, audiences will be treated to a series of screenings at the Shoe Factory in Nicosia that are sure to provide a novel take on the cinematic experience. Each evening’s screenings see both cinematic masterpieces of the Silent Era set to original music by contemporary composers, and short films by contemporary filmmakers set to the music of classical composers.

With a total of three screenings each night (a feature film, a 20-30 minute film, and a short contemporary film), enLIVE “is certain to be an absolutely unique and stimulating visual and aural experience,” say organisers. “Each day is based on a different thematic idea (For Love, To Dream, On Earth), and the live performance of music by a number of talented musicians will marvellously enhance the mood and atmosphere of each silent film, divulging its veiled imageries and deciphering its connotation.”

Beginning on Wednesday, the series opens on the theme of For Love. First up is Charlie Chaplin’s classic, The Gold Rush which, despite being released in 1925, is often considered to be the greatest and most elaborate comedy ever filmed. “This is the picture that I want to be remembered by,” said Chaplin of the one film in which his wish to make the audience laugh and the desire to make the audience love him are held in perfect balance. Andreas Zafeiropoulos will be providing a stirring accompaniment on the piano, before handing over to pianist Annini Tsiouti, soprano Mariza Anastasiades and flautist Maria Avraam for the second film of the evening: RomanceSentimentale, which is essentially a short, experimental, poetic and symbolic montage of abstract scenes made in 1930. The evening ends with the short film For Love, directed by Iraklis Ioannou, Mike Constantinou, Georgia Nicolaou, Fanouria Panagiotou and Irene Pantela, with music from Francisco Tárrega performed by Loukas Philippou on the guitar.

Thursday takes a look at the theme To Dream as played out in three separate films: the 1928 release The Little Match Girl (in which director Renoir created a stylised re-envisioning of Andersen’s fairy tale) with pianist Andreas Zafeiropoulos accompanying for the second night in a row; the 1919 Das Kabinett des Dr. Caligari (a blend of fantasy, romanticism, medieval stories and philosophic fable into a story of mind-control, murder, and insanity) with Eleni Mitsiaki creating an accompanying DJ set; and finally To Dream by contemporary director Demetra Egglezou with Zafeiropoulos performing corresponding works by Scriabin.

On Earth is the theme of the final night, which begins with Georges Méliès’ 1902 classic A Trip to the Moon. One of the most famous films in cinema, it’s notable for its innovative animation and special effects, including the well-known image of the spaceship landing in the moon’s eye – which will be greatly enhanced no doubt by the musical accompaniment of flautist Maria Avraam. Next up is Robert Flaherty’s pioneering documentary Nanook of the North, which tells the story of an indigenous Inuit hunter’s struggle to survive in the harsh conditions of Canada’s Arctic Circle. Enormously popular on its release in 1922, the film captures the unforgiving beauty of the Great White North – an atmosphere that will no doubt be reflected in the accompanying music by Georgia Kalodiki (Live Electronics) and Dimitra Triantafyllou (violin). Lastly, contemporary director Emy Tzavra-Bulloch’s film On Earth will be set to pieces by Bach, performed by flautist Maria Avraam.

enLIVE is a truly unique series: movie buffs get a new take on old classics, music-lovers get the visual stimulation of films both old and new. The perfect event, in fact, to ‘enLIVE’en your week!

Presented by The Pharos Arts Foundation at the Shoe factory in Nicosia on January 27, 28 and 29. All events start at 8.30pm. Tickets cost €10 for each day / €25 for all three days. For further information and bookings, visit, call the Foundation on 22 663871 or the Box Office on 96 669003 (Monday – Friday 10am-3pm)

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