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Toronto Silent Film Festival to feature live music, Mary Pickford and more

In Diary of A Lost Girl, Louise Brooks plays a thoroughly modern maiden in the cautionary tale of flapper-era morality.

Mary Pickford may have been America's sweetheart but the Canadian star and producer got her start at Toronto's Princess Theatre.

Accordingly, one of the highlights of the Toronto Silent Film Festival is a centennial restoration of Mistress Nell made especially for TSFF in partnership with the Mary Pickford Foundation. Pickford plays Nell Gwyn, Charles II's swashbuckling mistress, though it's decidedly less racy than Louise Brooks's thoroughly modern maiden in the cautionary tale of flapper-era morality Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), her second major collaboration with G.W. Pabst after Pandora's Box.

Each screening is accompanied by live music (including a world premiere score for Lon Chaney's The Penalty). Saturday afternoon double-bill with film historian Ben Model is a hot ticket: He presents his illustrated lecture Undercranking, about how silent-era physical comedians made creative use of tempo – namely, the difference between shooting and projection frame rates – to devise elaborate, stylized gags that would be impossible in real time. Model, the MoMA's resident silent-film accompanist, will then accompany the Harold Lloyd classic Safety Last!

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April 9-14, for schedule details and tickets,

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Nathalie More


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