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SF360: San Francisco Silent Film Festival

SF360: San Francisco Silent Film Festival

Silents had only been dead for 20 years when “Sunset Boulevard” came out. One generation’s cultural norms always look ridiculous to the next generation, which invariably thinks itself the zenith of modernity and cool. It takes more than a couple decades to actually sort the silly from the sublime. And a half-century onward, Norma’s puffy pronouncement now seems pretty dead-on: Silent cinema did indeed create star personalities all the more vivid for their having to communicate solely through pantomime. You’ll get a big dose of star power — circa Roaring Twenties — this weekend as the San Francisco Silent Film Festival presents its 11th annual weekend of archival features and shorts. This year’s bill is lighter on foreign titles (there’s just one French and one Russian feature) than usual, but delightfully heavy on Hollywood star vehicles showcasing some of the era’s most beloved and still-charismatic screen talents. Dennis Harvey overviews the festival for SF360.

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