1!#####$ Secret Cinema Class Trip

The Secret Cinema organizes "class trip" to Syracuse Cinefest

In an unprecedented move, The Secret Cinema will be organizing a Philadelphia excursion to the Cinefest 18, a festival of vintage films in Syracuse, New York. The aim of the "class trip" is to expose area cinephiles to the long-running but underpublicized festival, to provide a means of sharing rides and lowering costs, and to allow Class Trippers to enjoy a long weekend of cinematic camaraderie. This is a strictly non-profit venture of the Secret Cinema, offered just for fun and convenience, somewhat in the tradition of radio station-sponsored cruise trips.

Of the various annual festivals of vintage film, the Syracuse Cinefest is geographically closest to the Delaware Valley, and has a reputation as being one of the very best. It draws upwards of 600 cinephiles from all over the world, including such notables as Leonard Maltin and the heads of several major film archives. Most of the four-day event takes place in a Sheraton hotel, where there are non-stop screenings of silent and early sound films from morning till late night -- which, like Secret Cinema screenings, use 16mm film projected on a large screen. There will be live musical accompaniment with all of the silent films. There is also a large dealers room where fans can hunt for posters, videos, films, books and other collectibles.

On Saturday morning of the fest, there is a special 35mm program at the former Loews State theater in downtown Syracuse, a huge, lavish, fully restored theater from the golden age of movie palaces (and an eye-opening reminder that many small cities have managed to save at least one movie palace, unlike Philadelphia). The 35mm program typically includes at least two newly restored silent features and several other surprises (this years program will include the George Eastman Houses new 102 minute restoration of The Lost World).

As usual, the 16mm program includes rare films not likely to be screened elsewhere, including The Shakedown (1928, dir. Wm. Wyler), Victoreen (with Dorothy Gish), Frozen Heart (starring and directed by Stan Laurel), Sos Your Old Man (1926, W.C. Fields), Parade of Technicolor, and many, many more. This years Cinefest is dedicated to the late film historian William K. Everson, an omnipresent figure at past Cinefests who provided much of the archival material shown.

Serving as tour guide for the Philadelphia junket will be Secret Cinema head guy Jay Schwartz, who has attended 5 previous Cinefests since 1988 (and several other similar festivals). Schwartz will attempt to fill the Ken Garland role, and offer his considered advice on films that shouldnt be missed, cheapest lodging options, and the best Italian restaurants in the area.

The Cinefest runs from Thursday, March 5 through Sunday, March 8. Since events begin at 10 am Thursday morning, the excursion will leave on Wednesday, March 4. If interest warrants it, the trip may be extended a day earlier to allow a side trip to the George Eastman House museum of photography and film archive in nearby Rochester, and/or a trip to the Case Museum in Auburn, New York, for a look at the workshop where inventor Theodore Case helped to invent sound film.

Here's a link to information on the Cinefest. At this date it is showing information about last year's festival, but I imagine it will be updated soon. Anyway, last year's info will give you a good idea of what to expect in 1998.

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