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Among the high-profile events of the 37th edition of the Pordenone Silent Film Festival (October 6-13), Artistic Director Jay Weissberg highlights The Betrothed by Mario Bonnard, to whom a retrospective is dedicated. An actor and a director, Bonnard is one of the most significant figures in both silent and talking Italian cinema, and an artist with a truly international perspective as he lived and worked in Germany as well. The Betrothed is not the first film adaptation from Alessandro Manzoni’s masterpiece, but Bonnard’s 1922 take is certainly the most spectacular. The film will be shown accompanied by a new music score, commissioned by Piano FVG, composed by Valter Sivilotti, and played by the Nuova Orchestra da Camera Ferruccio Busoni under the direction of Massimo Belli, in collaboration with Accademia Naonis.

 The attention to Italian cinema also includes the screening of Gustavo Serena’s and Francesca Bertini’s 1915 Assunta Spina, who was very popular abroad and also known with the alternative title Neapolitan Tears. The film will be accompanied by the music duo John La Barbera (guitar) and Carlo Aonzo (mandolin). Another project connected to Italy is the one focusing on Italo-American actor and director Robert Vignola, who was born in Basilicata but then moved to Hollywood where, during the silent film era, became on the most established directors.

The pre-Opening night will screen Marion Davies’ Beauty’s Worth. Weissberg put the spotlight on a diva of the time, Pola Negri (to whom this year’s poster is dedicated). Born in Poland, she chose that name as a homage to writer Ada Negri. The festival presents the world premiere of the MoMA-restored version of Ernst Lubitsch’s Forbidden Paradise, considered as the apex of Pola Negri’s acting career. The film represents the final chapter of the long collaboration between the actress and the director, one that started in Europe and then moved to the United States. Nicola Lubitsch, daughter of Ernst, will be in Pordenone to talk about her father.

This year’s Opening Film is Captain Salvation by John Robertson, a now forgotten director who was very much loved by Hitchcock. The music score is by Phil Carli and will be directed by the Orchestra San Marco. The Closing Film is Raymond Bernard’s 1927 The Chess Player.

 Among the program’s highlights, the retrospective dedicated to John Stahl, master of melodrama; and the special program dedicated to Balzac, a writer who has known an extraordinary cinematic fortune. Only in Italy during the silent film era, no less than 25 films were adapted from his works. Only one of them, Perjury, survived to these days and will be screened in Pordenone.

As usual, the festival showcases a number of great masters such as Keaton, Dreyer, Ozu, Mizoguchi and Kulesov; spectacular masterpieces such as Jacques Freyder’s L’Atlantide; and recent discoveries like Victor Sjöström 1915 Judaspengar, found in France last year and shown for the first time in Pordenone. Pordenone celebrates the 50th anniversary of the 1968 with the volume The Parade’s Gone by… by Kevin Brownlow, a milestone for the rediscovery and valorization of silent cinema. To pay homage to his author, the festival will screen six rarities that have been chosen following Brownlow’s suggestions.

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