George Sirk’s Film Festival

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Out of the Archives: A collection of George Sirk’s early films, both in 16mm and Super 8, will be presented at Manson’s Hall, Sunday, July 17. The festival is sponsored by Cortes Island Museum and Archives Society and ScanLab.

The films are part of George Sirk’s Cortes Cinema productions from 1975 to 1981. Most of them showcase a snapshot – in moving pictures, of some madcap antics, dramatizations and documentaries of life on Cortes during that period. The plots were collaborations with many imaginative and supportive Cortesians, and George’s sister, Anna, was behind the camera when George was in front of it. These films are also a nostalgic and moving tribute to many who appeared in roles and cameos, and have now passed. Films are illusions. They have the power to bring people back to life, albeit briefly, as they move across the screen.

For over 40 years they have sat in George’s famed archives and will finally see the light of the projector again. All made beautifully possible by the digitization by Doug McCaffry who runs ScanLab here on Cortes, and the vision and support of the Cortes Museum. Doug also remastered the Linnaea feature documentary “Land for Stewardship,” and gave fresh life to ten, four-minute shorts. George’s films are inspired by the great humourists of silent film: Chaplin, Keaton and Jacques Tati (Monsieur Hulot), and likewise delight in stretching reality. Silent shorts like “Chicken Soup,” “A Happy Ending,” “The Divotee” – capture the real theatrics of Cortes Island: from the superb acting of the late Al Murray in “Where Does the Lone Ranger Take His Garbage?” to the wild improbability of the “Hippy Gen Building Low Cost Homes in Orange Sunshine.”  Mostly shot sequentially (edited in the camera like the great film makers mentioned), rehearsals were key to smooth transitions and conserved valuable film stock.

The diverse history of life on yet another island, Papua New Guinea, is revealed in a

40-minute feature: Modern Times Too, playing on Chaplin’s Modern Times title. For about 50,000 years, the Papuans evolved to have one of the most complex human civilizations. Often wrongly portrayed as “primitive,” George attempted to show that the Papuans are indeed modern in that their culture and innovation have successfully brought them to the present. This documentary was shot in Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea, in 1981, on Super 8 film with the assistance of Isolde Ruthenberg.

As a bonus, at intermission, excerpts of George’s video of Ann Mortifee’s 1987 concert, which was performed on the same stage at Manson’s Hall, will be premiered.

Popcorn, treats, Becca’s Beans coffee – donated by new owners Doug and Melanie McCaffry, will be part of the refreshments.