A Night of Silents: Films by David Michalak & George Méliès

Friday, April 19, 2024 — 7:30 PM
Tickets: $15 General, $10 Members & Students
Buy Tickets Online


A NIGHT OF SILENTS, Pt. 1 features two rarely seen progressive “silent films” by David Michalak: Not Quite Right and the “poetic and hypnotic…” Face of a Stranger. “My idea was to allow gesture and expression to reveal the characters inner feelings and relay the narrative.” Rare films by magician, wizard and accidental filmmaker George Méliès open the show.

selected shorts / 1895 – 1905 / 10 min
Live music accompaniment by Bruce Ackley & David Michalak

Directed & Photographed by David Michalak / 1987 / 10m.

A dark, haunting psychological portrait of a man struggling with his demons and a desire for change. Saxophones argue on the telephone while an elevator descends into a musical hell storm. Man finds world, Not Quite Right.

With Helmut Wautischer Soundtrack by J.A. Deane/David Michalak with Bruce Ackley

Directed & photographed by David Michalak / 1977 / 60m.

While famed director Nichols Ray worked on his “experimental” film with students at SUNY COLLEGE in Binghamtom, N.Y., local upstart David Michalak worked on his own feature, paying tribute to shadowy German expressionism, silent movies and the serials of the 1920s. Not a word is spoken in this tale of a kind-hearted man who turns to cruelty when his lover dies an unexpected tragic death. His sanity is challenged further when he meets a woman bearing a strong resemblance to his deceased partner. Expression and gesture covey the story. Michalak shot the film on location at a restored turn of the century house, The Devil’s Punch Bowl (a rock quarry) and in the lush forests of upstate New York with his film company Eye-Full Films.

James Russell Lowell’s review from the premiere at Roberson Museum in 1977 is, in part, quoted here, calling the film, “remarkable….poetic and hypnotic… David Michalak’s folkloric opus transports his audience into a world shared by UFA expressionists of the silent era yet it possesses a wonderful, uncanny immediacy – both poetic and hypnotic.”

The film is full of nightmares, dreams and visions of a love lost and features glowing performances by Billie-Marie as both the haughty Otilla and servant Anna.

“What a revelation it is to see an actress who truly, innately, comprehends the visual relevance of cinema!  She endows her face – her every gesture – with emblematic meaning, conveying an almost unearthly quality. Michalak’s camera, script and direction allow us to see her (Anna) as the ultimate trusting soul; accepting one fate after another, finding empathy only in a dancing dream-clown, who all-too-briefly enchants her.”

The films stars: Billie-Marie as both Otillia and Anna, David Gardner as Gunnar, Gerald Michalak as Jarl and Michael Butler as Hynek who dances and features a newly recorded score by the internationally acclaimed pianist Thollem McDonas.

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