Wow – time is flying here at the festival! We’ve just finished our morning screenings of Paths to Paradise and Master of the House. This afternoon brings us Max Linder, Keaton, and Beckett…. all leading up to our Silent Comedy Gala this evening hosted by Rory Bremner.

This afternoon, I had the opportunity to catch up with one of our musicians and previous festival-goer, Daan van den Hurk. I wanted to speak to someone who had been to the festival previously and find out why they return year after year…. but who wouldn’t?

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Daan has attended two previous festivals as a viewer. He had found out about the festival when he attended Le Giornate del cinema muto, the annual silent film festival held annually in Pordenone, Italy. It was there that he met David Robinson, who was director of that festival until 2015. David is one of our regular guests, patron, and on the Board of Directors for the Slapstick Festival. David told him enthusiastically that he should attend our festival here in Bristol.

The previous festivals were very fun… Daan says that it is a beautiful festival. It also gives him the opportunity to catch up with David, as well as some of our other musicians. Last year’s highlight for Daan was The Kid. To see it screened in a beautiful hall on an enormous screen just gave it “something wondrous”!

One of Daan’s highlights this year has been the opportunity to accompany some of our films this year. Speaking from my perspective as an audience member, Daan brings something very special to the experience. He had enormous fun yesterday playing for Harold Lloyd’s Hot Water and couldn’t stop laughing from behind the piano!

I asked Daan what attracted him to silent film accompaniment. He had always been interested in classic films and had found out about a master class in improvised film accompaniment in Pordenone. He was pleased to find out that it is still and vibrant and vital part of the cinematic experience.

Improvisation and composition are two aspects of music in which Daan specialises. He told me he can’t think of a time where he wasn’t playing the piano. He found that much of his compositions followed a story and he enjoyed this part of composing. Improvising a score for a film is a perfect way for all these passions to come together for him!

More information about Daan can be found on his website.