Thursday, July 12, 2012

First Annual Orange County Silent Film Festival

Experience the beginnings of American film with selections of horror, mystery, fantasy, and animation. Discover Orange County’s own role in movie history and how Hollywood began by those who created it at the First Annual Orange County Silent Film Festival, at the A.W. Buckbee Center, 2 Colonial Avenue, Warwick, NY

Four sessions are scheduled beginning on Sunday, July 29, 1:00 – 3:00 pm & 4:00 – 6:00 pm and Monday, July 30, 12:00 – 2:00 pm & 7:00 – 9:00 pm.  Admission is $10.00, $5.00 for children under 12.  The festival is a cooperative presentation by The Neversink Valley Museum of History & Innovation, Seth Goldman, Executive Director; and Warwick Historical Society executive director Dr. Robert Schmick.  Reservations are strongly suggested by contacting the NVM at (845)-754-8870 or WHS at (845) 986-3236 or 845-781-3729. 

      The Neversink Valley Museum and the Institute for Early Film Studies celebrates the contributions of such Hollywood legends as D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford, Lillian and Dorothy Gish, Mack Sennett, Florence Lawrence amongst others, who came to Orange County in the earlier part of the 19th Century to create films. Seth Goldman is the Executive Director of both the museum and institute, and Gretchen Weerheim is the museum educator and assistant director of the institute.

       D.W. Griffith created seventeen films in Cuddebackville: “I discovered Cuddebackville, the most beautiful, altogether the loveliest spot in America…there is a quality about the light there, particularly a twilight that I have never found elsewhere; it is transcendently illuminative for moving pictures.” Both early studios and silent screen stars Mary Pickford, Mack Sennett, Florence Lawrence, Mabel Normand, Dorothy and Lillian Gish and others had career beginnings in this area. 

      The festival is also in homage to Warwick’s own cinema palace, the Oakland Theatre, which served the community as a location for vaudeville, opera, music, and movies from the silent era until the 1970s. “For many, the Oakland Theatre was the site of both their first movie and their first date; I, for one, savior memories of B horror movies starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee that I saw during the last years of the Theatre’s existence, said Dr. Robert Schmick executive director of the Warwick Historical Society.

      Recently, a World War I era poster came to light advertizing a concert for the “Permanent Blind Relief War Fund For Soldiers and Sailors at the Oakland Theatre”, which exemplifies the integral civic role these early opera houses and cinema palaces played in communities like Warwick and others in addition to providing a public space for a shared movie experience in a movie house, a seemingly rarer occasion these days.

     We want to contribute to bringing a little bit more of that community experience back from the past at the A.W. Buckbee Center,” said Dr. Schmick.

This is in homage to the Oakland Theatre----Warwick’s own silent era movie palace.

  Circa 1927 ad

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