CAAM at the 2014 SF Silent Film Festival

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Next week, the beloved San Francisco Silent Film Festival returns to the Castro Theatre for its annual four-day run. We at CAAM are thrilled to co-sponsor two archival gems: Song of the Fishermen (directed by Cai Chusheng) on Friday, May 30, and Yasujiro Ozu’s Dragnet Girl on Sunday, June 1. Please come and join us for these rare treats.

From the film’s description: “Cai Chusheng’s Song of the Fishermen (漁光曲 Yu Guang Qu, 1934) is not only the first social-realist film in Chinese cinema history, but also the first Chinese film to win a prize in an international festival (Moscow Film Festival, 1935). Depicting the struggle of the poor in Shanghai, the film is a moving story of social injustice told with eloquence and passion. Starring the beautiful Wang Renmei, the film was a breakaway success—playing in Shanghai for a record 84 days to an audience of nearly a million.”

Actor Wang Renmei (with infant) in The Song of the Fishermen, playing at the SF Silent Film Festival on May 30.

Actor Wang Renmei (with infant) in The Song of the Fishermen (1934), playing at the SF Silent Film Festival on May 30.

And for those who’ve been following the SFSFF’s run of early Ozu films (including I Was Born, But… and last year’s wonderful Tokyo Chorus) here’s a chance to see another early work of this cinema giant but one that is completely different in tone and setting from his usual take on family relationships. It turns out that Ozu loved the gangster film genre and made three of his own, with Dragnet Girl (Hijosen No Onna, 1933being the last and best of them. “Kinuyo Tanaka stars as a typist by day, and gun-toting gangster’s moll by night. As her ex-boxer lover, Joji Oka matches her tough bravado. Ozu fills the frame with Hollywood-style décor and costumes, moody lighting and noir shadows.” And yes, there’s still Ozu’s wonderful tracking shots and signature low-level camera angles.

What makes the entire experience of the SFSFF so magical is the perfect combination of place (the Castro Theatre), and world-class musical accompaniment (for Song of the Fishermen, Donald Sosin, and for Dragnet Girl, Guenter Buchwald—both are acclaimed masters of the art form), and transcendent cinema artistry, thanks to the programming team lead by Anita Monga.

If you love silent film, well, you already know about this festival. If you haven’t experienced a great silent film with live musical accompaniment in a movie palace, well, come and be prepared to be blown away.

– Stephen Gong

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival runs May 29-June 1 at the Castro Theatre.

Song of the Fishermen (漁光曲 Yu Guang Qu) 

Friday, May 30 at 1:00 pm $13/$15
Directed by Cai Chusheng, China, 1934
Accompanied by Donald Sosin on piano

Dragnet Girl (Hijosen No Onna)
Sunday, June 1 at 12:00 pm $13/$15
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu, Japan, 1933
Accompanied by Guenter Buchwald on piano

Note: CAAM members enjoy SFSFF member discounts!

Main image: Kinuyo Tanaka and Joji Oka in Dragnet Girl (1933).