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Tromso, Norway – Thurs Sept 7

This morning I played to a near-full house of teenagers — a Buster Keaton program., at 9am no less. The kids, who had never seen a silent film before, loved it.

At noon, a handful of kindergarteners were brought in to see a short, with press in attendance to interview them. Originally slated was THE PAWNSHOP, but I thought it might be too complicated for that age group and we switched to THE COOK. Which worked out great, as the kids turned out to be 3 and 4 years old. But they sat still and very attentive throughout the screening and had a good time. I saw the kid interviews (and footage of me playing) on the local TV channel later on in the afternoon.

Tonight was opening night (apningen) and the film was LAILA (1929), made in Norway and shown in a brand new restored print done by the Norwegian Film Institute. A beautiful score by local musician Herborg Rundberg that included same Sami folk melodies, very effective; she did a great job. What was unique about the print is that the restoration had been done digitally…including the speed correction, which meant that the print could be shown at 24fps even though the transfer had been done at 16fps (yes, that’s right, a 1929 silent transferred at 16fps). What this will mean is that more cinemas can show the film, as a variable-speed projector would not be necessary. 16fps looked okay, although a little faster would’ve helped some of the dramatic scenes that looked a little slower than real-time.

Bottom line, though, is that LAILA is a beautiful film, and its cinematography and scenery are breathtaking. The acting and direction is quite good, and I hope this one gets shown elsewhere. I will be recommending this title to curators.

Well, off to bed. Tomorrow I play for another school group in the morning, and then a special silent comedy surprise rarity I can’t mention here until it’s happened.

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