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Line up revealed for new silent film festival at Morecambe Winter Gardens

Image: Timm Cleasby

The line up has been revealed for a new festival combining classic cinema with live music at Morecambe Winter Gardens.

Silents by the Sea is a new annual event taking place for the first time on June 8 and 9.

The festival will include a programme of silent films with live music and introduce audiences to the early history of film making.

Presented by Northern Silents, the inaugural festival features fascinating talks and captivating live-scored silent cinema, all in the spectacular surroundings of the historic Winter Gardens theatre.

Silents by the Sea opens on Saturday 8th June with a show celebrating the genius of Charlie Chaplin. The evening starts with two of Chaplin’s short comedies accompanied on the piano by celebrated musician and broadcaster Neil Brand.

After the interval, the sixteen-piece Northern Silents Sinfonia makes its debut with Lancashire-born conductor Helen Harrison, performing Chaplin’s own score to his 1921 heart warming comedy, The Kid. Chaplin’s little tramp character is one of the most iconic images in all of cinema, and this special event with live orchestral music will bring this classic film to life.

On Sunday 9th June, the big screen will be taken over by the colourful fantasies of Georges Méliès. The show brings together a selection of Méliès’ creations including his most famous, A Trip to the Moon, along with films by his Spanish counterpart, Segundo de Chomon, and others.

The films will be accompanied by musicians from Morecambe, Lancaster and across the North, including Off the Rails Creative Jazz Orchestra and a new vocal ensemble being formed for the festival, The People’s Cinematic Voices. This group is open to everyone, with or without previous experience, and a series of group singing sessions will be running in Morecambe and Lancaster in the lead up to the festival.

The festival finale is the very first dinosaur adventure film, The Lost World. With stop-motion animation by Willis O’Brien, this 1925 classic brings Conan Doyle’s fantastical story to the big screen. Acclaimed improvising quartet Frame Ensemble will breathe fresh life into the giants of this epic film with a mesmerising live musical score.

Festival goers can also enjoy two free talks over the weekend. On Saturday, expert in the neuroscience of comedy Professor Sophie Scott joins Neil Brand to explore the brain and slapstick. Then on Sunday, festival musicians reveal the secrets to making improvised music on the spot.

Jonny Best, artistic director of Northern Silents, said: “Silents by the Sea is set to be an incredible weekend of live music and big-screen cinema entertainment in the stunning surroundings of Morecambe’s magnificent Winter Gardens theatre.

‘’Over the festival weekend, a community of musicians from Morecambe, Lancaster, and beyond, will create live film music for beautiful films from the early years of cinema. And we’d love people to get involved.

‘’We’re recruiting a small team of volunteers to help run the festival, and you can be part of the music by joining The People’s Cinematic Voices, our innovative new improvising vocal ensemble.

"We’re thrilled to be working once again with the Winter Gardens’ wonderful team of volunteers, under the leadership of Professor Vanessa Toulmin - without them, none of this would be possible. Our collaboration with Morecambe’s More Music also continues, and we are grateful to the team there for their continued support.

"We can’t wait to welcome everyone to the first ever Silents by the Sea!”

Silents by the Sea is supported with funding from the National Lottery by Arts Council England and Film Hub North on behalf of BFI’s Film Audience Network. The festival is also funded by Lancashire County Council and Morecambe Town Council.

Tickets and information at www.silentsbythesea.com  

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