Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Coming to the Historic Strand Theatre in downtown Vicksburg
Dr. Caligari + Moving Machines = not so Silent Film
By Daniel W. Boone

Silent films were never silent. From the early days, live music was performed to accompany the images. Sometimes written, but often improvised, the music was a complement, a completion of the film. When sound pictures became the norm, the element of live performance at the movies was largely abandoned. There was no need.

Not everyone believed sound was the best idea for the movies. The great Alfred Hitchcock thought the art of storytelling inherent in film was hampered by the necessity of recording the actors voices and background sounds. He referred to the new sound films as "photographs of people talking." Even though most of the "limitations" of sound have been long been eliminated, the potential power of the image in "silent" film remains.

Recent years have seen a resurgence in silent films accompanied by live musicans. High profile projects like Carmine Coppola’s orchestral accompaniment to Abel Gance’s Napoleon and Richard Einhorn’s shimmering Voices of Light paired with Dryer’s Passion of Joan of Arc are only two of many examples. At festivals groups like The Alloy Orchestra have performed many scores to films such as Tod Browning’s Dracula, and Paul Fejo’s Lonesome.

In 2012, the year that a silent film won the Academy Award for Best Picture, we decided it is time for a live music / silent film event in Vicksburg. On Halloween, Wednesday, October 31 the German classic, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari will be presented at the Strand Theatre in downtown Vicksburg with live original music by Palmer Shiers and Jeff Gough, known collectively as Moving Machines.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was filmed in 1919 and is known as the first expressionist film and maybe the first horror film. It is a psychological thriller about a mad doctor who is the keeper of a carnival attraction: a sonambulist. Suspicious activities occur during the night in the vicinity of the carnival, and the doctor and his charge are suspected. The sets of the film were all painted, and designed to emphasize tilting angles and heavy shadows in the expressionist style. The nonrealistic sets help give the film the feeling of a nightmare.

Palmer and Jeff, who have been performing together for more than a year, both play electric stringed instruments: guitar and bass, using a technique they sometimes refer to as "treated guitar." The term describes the fact that much manipulation of the sound is employed, including multiple effects pedals and sometimes distortion in an effort to create music that will evoke emotions. "I wanted to devote myself to experimental music without lyrics, because I thought I could communicate feelings better that way," Palmer Shiers said. "We feel that even with no drums or other instruments, our music has no boundaries. We can make music that is moving to the listener and to us."

When approached about the prospect of essentially creating a score for a film made over 90 years ago, Palmer was instantly intrigued and game for the challenge. "I have often thought of our music in terms of film. It’s something I have wanted to do, so I couldn’t say no."

"We watched the film and I was struck by how weird it is. I realized with such stylized sets and props, it needed music that had structure, but we wanted it to have an ambient, abstract tone. We have screened it over and over since this Spring and developed themes for the different characters. It is a dark film and we believe the images plus our music will deliver some chills.

The performance will take place at the Strand Theatre at 717 Clay Street. It will begin at 7:30 PM. Cost is $10 per person. Tickets are available in advance at Highway 61 Coffeehouse and online at:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Strandfest 2012

Strandfest 2012

Vicksburg's First International Film Festival

5 films
in 3 days!
in celebration of 10 years of Film Movement - distributor of award winnning independent & foreign films

presented by

Westside Theatre Foundation
September 28 - 30
At the historic Strand Theatre
in downtown Vicksburg, Mississippi
717 Clay Street

advance tickets at reduced prices available online and at Highway 61 Coffeehouse

limited seating - act now!
As the long hot summer ends, the Strand Theatre in downtown Vicksburg will begin its Fall season of presenting alternative cinema. For their first offering they will celebrate the tenth anniversary of Film Movement, a New York based distributor of award wining independent and foreign films by presenting Strandfest 2012, a weekend long festival of five films from as many countries. Featured will be dramas, comedies, and a documentary.

The festival begins Friday, September 28 at 7 PM with the new French film "The Day I Saw Your Heart," a funny, sometimes poignant comedy about family.

Saturday will see the Peruvian "Amador" at 5 PM and the Norwegian prison drama, "King of Devil’s Island." Sunday at 4:30, the Brazilian ballet documentary, "Only When I Dance" will be followed by "The Drummer" from Hong Kong at 7 PM.

The concession stand will have light supper items available for sale for those who want to get a "quick bite" between films on Saturday night.

"We have been a member of Film Movement for about four years," said Daniel Boone, codirector of the Strand Cinema. "One of the things I have enjoyed about the series is the exquisite sense of place expressed in the films. You always feel as if you have been transported to an unfamiliar, but very specific place, regardless of the story being told. Mainstream American films usually seem to take place in a sort of accepted movie world rather than real places. It is exciting to be able to present this selection of films from around the world. We hope anyone who comes to several of the films will have a true "film festival" experience."

The Strand Theatre was one of Vicksburg’s movie houses from the 1930s to 1960s. It is located in the Adolph Rose Building at 717 Clay Street. The Westside Theatre Foundation leases the space to present live theatrical performances as well as a series of films.

Tickets for individual films in Strandfest 2012 can be purchased in advance for five dollars each at and at Highway 61 Coffeehouse at 1101 Washington Street. A full festival pass is available for $20 in advance. Tickets for each show can be purchased at the door for $7 each. For more details see or call Highway 61 Coffeehouse at 601 638 9221.


Friday, September 28 • 7:00 PM (Buy tickets)
Directed by Jennifer Devoldère

France | 2011 | Dramatic Comedy | French w/ English subtitles

Winner - Best Director - Newport Beach Film Festival
Winner - Best Actress - Newport Beach Film Festival

Official Selection - Boston Jewish Film Festival

Families are complicated… Especially when Eli, the father, who's about to be 60, is expecting a baby with his new wife. Upon hearing this news, his two grown daughters, Dom, who is trying to adopt, and Justine, who flits from one boyfriend to the next, are shocked. To get closer to Justine, whom he has never gotten along with, Eli has the bright idea of making friends with all of her exes...without her knowledge. But when Justine falls in love again and Eli is about to ruin everything, this family is on the verge of falling apart. Will they all be able to make peace before it's too late?


Sat., Sept. 29 • 5:00 PM - (Buy tickets)

Directed by Fernando Leon de Aranoa

Spain | 2011 | Drama | Spanish w/ English subtitles

Official Selection - Berlin Int'l Film Festival
Official Selection - Istanbul Int'l Film Festival

Marcela, a young immigrant with financial troubles, finds a summer job looking after Amador, a bed-ridden elderly man whose family is away. She thinks her problems are solved, but Amador dies shortly thereafter, putting Marcela in a
predicament. His death leaves her jobless, something she can't afford to let happen. Faced with a difficult moral dilemma, Marcela will prove that death can't always stop life.


Saturday, September 29 • 7:45 PM - (Buy tickets)

Directed by Marius Holst
Norway | 2011 | Thriller | Norwegian w/ English subtitles
Starring Stellan Skarsgård

Official Selection - Seattle Int'l Film Festival
Official Selection - Rotterdam Int'l Film Festival

This true story of the infamous Bastøy Boys Home correctional facility in Norway, begins with the arrival of seventeen-year-old Erling, a rumored murderer. He immediately clashes with the island facility's governor (Stellan Skarsgård), who believes manual labor, rigid discipline, and harsh punishment are the only methods that can turn the boys into honorable members of society. Refusing to accept the constant abuse, Erling slowly rouses the rest of the boys out of their resigned existence, and encourages them to fight to lift up their spirits. When tragedy finally falls at the hand of the sadistic dorm master, Erling leads his comrades in a courageous and vicious rebellion that will bring them head to head with no less than the Norwegian Army.


Sunday, September 30 • 4:30 PM - (buy tickets)

Directed by Beadie Finzi

Brazil, United Kingdom | 2009 Documentary | English and Portuguese with English Subtitles
Official Selection - Tribeca Film Festival
This feel-good documentary follows Irlan and Isabela, two teenagers from the violent favelas of Rio de Janeiro, as they pursue their dreams of becoming professional ballet dancers. This inspiring story takes us from Rio - where their communities must raise the funds to support their ambitions - to exhilarating ballet competitions in New York and Switzerland. It's a film about their determination to dance, and the price one must pay for talent, ambition and success.


Sunday, September 30 • 7:00 PM - (Buy tickets)
Directed by Kenneth Bi

Hong Kong-Taiwan-Germany | 2008 | Drama | Mandarin & Cantonese w/ English subtitles

Starring Jaycee Chan & Tony Leung Ka Fai

In the East, the drum is the king of all musical instruments. The intense sound of the drum can penetrate a man's body. The solemn beat of the drum can open a man's heart. The powerful vibration of the drum can awaken a man's soul.

Sid, the rebellious son of Kwan, a controlling and savage triad boss in Hong Kong, has to flee to Taiwan upon enraging his father's adversary, a powerful tycoon and underground business leader. Hiding out in the mountains, Sid encounters a group of Zen drummers whose mesmerizing art, rigorous physical training, and austere way of life pique this hostile urban young man's interest and he requests to join the group. Although Sid despises his father, he is turning out to be a younger version of him: wild and defiant. Immersing in the world of the Zen drummers eventually converts him into a firm and focused young man. Sid's independence from the triad life and his father is profoundly challenged, however, when a twist of fate awaits him back home in Hong Kong and forces him to choose between loyalty to his family and his new found faith in himself …


More images and information about all films may be found at

(Buy tickets)



Friday, February 3, 2012

New hopes for an old cinema...

When I was a kid I spent many an hour in the dark in the Strand Theater in downtown Vicksburg as classic and not so classic films flickered there before me. For decades no movies were screened in this all but forgotten space. Now the Strand has been rediscovered and put back into service by Jack Burns and his many volunteers of the Westside Theatre Foundation, who are staging plays and performances there.

It is our hope to add screenings of classic films, art films, independent films, documentaries, and foreign language films to the mix, returning this space to its original function. To have a vital cultural center in Vicksburg's downtown is a valuable asset to all of us for whom the area is our neighborhood, as well as all those who can now come downtown for entertainment. The tourist or other visitor also has more choices during their stays in our town.

Spring 2012 offerings at the Strand:

The Fairy
Gone with the Wind
The Wind Journeys

Fall 2012:

Strandfest: a festival of foreign language films from Filmmovement (in celebration of their tenth anniversary.)
The Day I Saw Your Heart
King of Devil's Island
Only When I Dance
The Drummer

The Well Digger's Daughter

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (with live music by Moving Machines) - Halloween - Wednesday, October 31

The Mystery of Picasso (presented by the Vicksburg Art Association)

Breakfast at Tiffany's presented outdoors at The Southern Cultural Heritage Center (sponsored by SCHF)