TENTH Annual 
Silent Film
-- the best of 
silent comedy and 
dramatic films 
with live 

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Made possible by
generous donations to
Kansas Silent Film
Festival, Inc.,

a 501(c)3 not-for-profit

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Kansas Silent Film Festival logo The Phantom of the Opera, with Lon Chaney When the Clouds Roll By,with Douglas Fairbanks Sr. His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz, produced by L. Frank Baum Double feature with Wallace Reid Nell Gwyn, with Dorothy Gish A Woman, with Charlie Chaplin

1997-2006 at the KSFF:
a review

The Kansas Silent Film Festival was the brainchild of silent film and organ enthusiast Jim Rhodes of the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. He, along with colleague Jim McShane, came up with the idea of a festival of silent films. Mr. Rhodes brought together a small group of people, three of whom had worked together at the Granada Theatre in Kansas City, KS: Marvin Faulwell, a dentist by day and a theater organist by night; Denise Morrison, an archivist for the Kansas City Museum and amateur film historian, and Penny Northern, retired film librarian from the Kansas City Public Library. Jim also invited John Vanhollebeke, a local car dealer who was a collector of film and film equipment, to provide the equipment and projection know-how to show the films. Bill Shaffer served that first year as Assistant Projectionist. The small group met in the fall of 1996 to decide the format, come up with a slate of films, and a place to hold the event. It was decided the films would be free to the public. But where to hold the event was still the burning question. Washburn University was asked to provide the space, since it had White Concert Hall (which seats 1,100) and also an organ to accompany the films. Jim McShane did the work of procuring the films - most of which came from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Jim Rhodes secured the necessary funding from area businesses, organizations, foundations, and individuals. This mix of various underwriters through the years has been the foundation on which this very successful film festival has been built.  It has also been the reason it has been kept free and open to the public.

March 1, 1997
All films accompanied by Marvin Faulwell except for the Douglas Fairbanks film, Wild and Woolly, accompanied on piano by film historian John Tibbetts. Our first schedule was packed with silent film "standards" and audience reaction was enthusiastic. Our only glitch that year was the Fairbanks film from the Museum of Modern Art just wouldn't work right. It's the only time in the festival's history that a film couldn't be shown all the way through. Shows ran from 9am to 7pm without breaks.
The line-up:
Films of the 1890s (compilation film)
A Trip to the Moon (1902)
The Great Train Robbery (1903)
Rescued From An Eagle's Nest (1908)
Broken Blossoms (1920)
The Tramp (1915)
Wild and Woolly (1917)
Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Sunrise (1927)
The General (1927)

Visit 1997 Program

March 28, 1998
The second year of the festival was formatted the same as the previous year--a full day of short and feature silent films, all accompanied on the organ by Marvin Faulwell except for the Douglas Fairbanks feature, The Mark of Zorro, which John Tibbetts once again agreed to introduce and accompany. From the beginning, our little committee learned from their mistakes. This year we did allow breaks for lunch and dinner. We also learned that our audience takes showtimes very seriously. After running late during our morning session, we came back from lunch to find a large and very unhappy crowd waiting impatiently for the showing of Fairbanks' Zorro. We also had a minor faux pas when our projectionist, John Vanhollebeke, pulled the wrong plug and turned off the projector showing Harold Lloyd's Safety Last. John's never been allowed to live it down since. The films shown our second year:

Life of An American Fireman (1903)
The Lost World (1925)
The Battle of Elderbush Gulch (1914)
Easy Street (1917)
Safety Last (1923)
Mark of Zorro (1920)
Liberty (1929)

Gertie the Dinosaur (1914)
The Battle (1911)
The Rink (1916)
Cops (1922)
Son of the Sheik (1926)
Heart of the Hills (1919)

Visit 1998 Program

February 27, 1999
Audience numbers continued to grow. To take the burden off Marvin of providing accompaniment for all the films, we invited the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra to participate; they provided the music for two of our features. This Colorado-based five piece orchestra quickly became a staple of our film festival and have returned every year since. Our committee grew with the addition of Bill Shaffer, of the local public television station. Jim Rhodes continued overseeing the fundraising, with the public library as the major contributor. The committee also included for a few years some members of the Jayhawk State Theatre group, who hoped one day to restore the theater and move the festival to that location. Our program that year contained two color films and consisted of:

Max Linder compilation
It (1927)
Tumbleweeds (1925)
Mickey (1918)
High and Dizzy (1920)
The Black Pirate (1926)
Behind the Screen (1916)
The Lonedale Operator (1911)
Two Tars (1928)
Teddy at the Throttle (1917)
The Voice of the Nightingale (1923)

Visit 1999 Program

March 18, 2000
The name officially changed in the 4th year of the festival to the Kansas Silent Film Festival. The program's format remained the same and back for a second year, Mont Alto joined Marvin Faulwell in providing accompaniment for all the films. A full day of silent film shorts and features were presented:

Magic Films compilation (1898-1905)
The Masquerader (1914)
The Mystery of the Leaping Fish (1916)
The New York Hat (1912)
You're Darn Tootin' (1928)
Wings (1927)
The Surf Girl (1916)
The Cameraman (1928)
Sky High (1922)
Peter Pan (1924)
Soldier Man (1926)

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February 23-24, 2001
This is the first year we began our festival on a Friday night, a tradition we have continued ever since. Audience participation remained strong. Our program featured:

The Daredevil (1923)
Barney Oldfield's Race For A Life (1913)
Perils of Pauline Part 1 (1914)
Blind Husbands (1919)
Suds (1920)
Mud and Sand (1923)
Leave 'Em Laughing (1928)
Beau Geste (1926)
City Lights (1931)
Felix in Hollywood (1922)
A Corner In Wheat (1909)
The Blacksmith (1922)
Blood and Sand (1922)
Puss 'n Boots (1922)
It's A Gift (1923)

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February 22-23, 2002
Our sixth year and we were bigger and better than ever. This was the last year of Jim Rhodes' leadership as Jim retired from the library. We presented Jim with a plaque at the end of the festival to honor his six years with us. The festival got a new projectionist, Rick Every, from Wichita. And Carol Yoho volunteered to create a presence on the web for the festival. And a new tradition began when Bill Shaffer included a surprise short in the program not previously advertised. The event included a special introduction of the feature Body and Soul by African-American filmmaker Kevin Wilmott. Our fabulous schedule included:

The Kid (1920)
Newman's Laugh-O-Grams (1920)

45 Minutes From Hollywood (1924)
Muskateers of Pig Alley (1912)
Valentino and His 88 American Beauties (1923)
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921)
Limousine Love (1928)
Sherlock, Jr. (1924)
A Trip To Paramount Town (1922)
Show People (1928)
Body and Soul (1925)
Early To Bed (1928)

Fiddlesticks (1924)
The Freshman (1925)

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February 28-March 1, 2003
The 7th annual festival stayed on course with a full slate of films. The highlight of this year's event was the Saturday evening Douglas Fairbanks classic The Thief of Bagdad, featuring the premiere of a new score by Mont Alto. An amusing sidelight to the festival was Marvin's surprise at finding a completely different ending to Flesh and the Devil (we were all surprised); after finishing with a flourish, Marvin prepared to leave the stage only to discover the film was still playing. The line-up this year was:

Revenge of a Kinematograph Cameraman (1912)
The Courtship of Miles Sandwich (1923)
Beggars of Life
Broncho Billy and The Western Girls (1915)
Love in an Apartment Hotel (1913)
The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
The Gold Rush (1925)

Should Husbands Pay?

His Bitter Pill
Hell's Hinges (1918)

Flesh and the Devil
Character Studies (c. 1921)

Visit 2003 Program .
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February 27-28, 2004
For the first time, a program booklet was prepared for our audience. The festival committee voted to become a nonprofit entity of its own instead of relying on the public library for administrative and monetary assistance. A new member of the musical family was introduced when Topeka Symphony percussionist Bob Keckeisen accompanied Marvin with the music for Saturday afternoon's Simba. And Simba had a special introduction by Conrad Froehlich, director of the Osa and Martin Johnson Safari Museum of Chanute, KS. The 8th annual program:

The Finishing Touch (1928)
I'm On My Way (1919)
Tarzan of the Apes (1918)
Bobby the Coward (1911)
The Waiter's Ball (1916)
Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend (1921)
Lilac Time (1928)
The Adventurer (1917)
Spite Marriage (1929)
Simba (1928)
Oliver Twist (1922)
The Marriage Circle (1924)
Mighty Like a Moose (1926)

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February 25-26, 2005
Since the beginning of the festival, it had been a dream of the committee to bring the films to their audience in as close to a theatrical setting as possible. To that end, it had always been hoped to try to use 35mm equipment, offering a better quality film experience. Eric Grayson graciously brought his own portable equipment from Indianapolis, IN. Unfortunately, due to the logistics of White Concert Hall, the equipment didn't have the proper lenses and light, making for a very dark Phantom experience. On the bright side, our festival's audience has grown over the years to include folks from over a dozen different states. This year's festival included:
Those Awful Hats (1909)
Never Weaken (1921)
When The Clouds Roll By (1919)
Mickey in School (1928)
The Hazards of Helen, Chapter 9
The Roaring Road (1919)
Wrong Again (1929)
A Woman (1916)
Pool Sharks (1911)
Pass The Gravy (1928)
The Sun Down Limited (1923)
His Majesty, the
Scarecrow of Oz
Nell Gwyn (1926)
Excuse My Dust
Slick Sleuths (1925)
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

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February 24-25, 2006
For our 10th anniversary year, it was decided to bring back some old favorites to the program, including the much requested Sunrise, while adding a few new titles to the growing catalogue of silent films shown over the years. We hope to be bringing silent films to our audience for many years to come.

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For details and photos from all festivals, 1997 to current year, visit our Archive Collection [upper left of Home].