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The renowned Berklee Silent Film Orchestra (BSFO) will bring its award-winning film/concert experience home to the Berklee campus for the first time, performing its original score to Battleship Potemkin (1925) at the Boston Conservatory Theater.
Perennially named among the greatest films of all time, director Sergei Eisenstein’s masterwork offers the gripping depiction of a mutiny on a Russian battleship, and a corresponding uprising in the port of Odessa, during the Russian Revolution of 1905. The film is filled with iconic images, early uses of montage, and never-before-seen cinematographic techniques. Potemkin transcends its propagandist beginnings, and depicts a thrilling triumph of the human spirit over the forces of oppression. The BSFO’s score for Battleship Potemkin received its world premiere at the Coolidge Corner Theatre as part of the Sounds of Silents® program in 2011.
The BSFO will open the program with performances of new scores for never-before-seen 4K restorations of two 1913 short films, The Rosary and Suspense. The titles are among the mere 20 surviving films by pioneering female writer/director Lois Weber, one of the most important and prolific auteurs of the silent era. BSFO alumnae composers Skylar Nam and Esin Aydingoz have scored the Weber films for Kino Lorber’s 2018 commercial release. The Rosary is a haunting and hypnotic story of unrequited love, while Suspense is a relentless thriller that features a high-octane car chase. Both of the shorts were do-directd by Philips Smalley.
Lauded by film übercritic Leonard Maltin, Indiewire, the Wall Street Journal, and the Boston Society of Film Critics, the 17-piece Berklee Silent Film Orchestra, led by Sheldon Mirowitz, Berklee film scoring professor, has performed scores to capacity crowds and lengthy standing ovations at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival; the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; at film festivals on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket; and in its second home, Brookline’s Coolidge Corner Theatre. The student ensemble composes and performs its scores as part of a unique, highly selective set of courses in Berklee’s film scoring program, the first undergraduate film scoring program in the U.S. Two of the ensemble’s scores, The Last Laugh and Varieté, have been released for home video and theatrical exhibition by Kino International to great acclaim.
The BSFO will also perform the score to Battleship Potemkin live-to-picture at the Avon Cinema in Providence, Rhode Island on Thursday, January 18 and at the Cabot in Beverly, Massachusetts on Sunday, January 28.