After three successful editions, this year’s edition of the British Film Week was dedicated to the UK’s greatest film director: Alfred Hitchcock.
From 21 Feb to 5 March, four of his rarely seen silent films, newly restored by the British Film Institute: The Ring (1927) The Pleasure Garden (1925) The Lodger (1926) Downhill (1927) were screened in Rabat, Tetouan and Agadir. The screening of the four films were accompanied by a live music performance played by the talented British Composer: Stephen Horne.
UK 1926. With Virginia Valli, Miles Mander, Carmelita Geraghty, John Stuart. 90 mins.
Daniel Patrick Cohen’s score for The Pleasure Garden is a rich and complex orchestral work that perfectly captures the darkly romantic undertones of Hitchcock’s first feature. A first composition commission for the 24-year-old British composer (just two years younger than Hitchcock himself when he directed the film), Cohen’s score has a vibrant, energetic core that resonates strongly with the music hall setting for a tale of the messy love lives of two chorus girls.
UK 1926. With Ivor Novello, June, Marie Ault, Malcolm Keen. 90 mins.
Described by Hitchcock himself as ‘the first true Hitchcock movie’, this masterly silent thriller is set in a fog-bound London terrorised by a Jack the Ripper-style murderer known only as The Avenger. His victims, all blonde young women, are discovered each Tuesday night. This is one of the great British silent crime films, starring matinée idol Ivor Novello as the mysterious new lodger in a London house who appears to be acting rather strangely.
UK 1927. With Ivor Novello, Isabel Jeans, Ian Hunter, Robin Irvine. 105 mins.
Hitchcock and world beatbox champion Shlomo were both 28 years old when they worked on Downhill. Shlomo’s 2012 vocal score for Hitchcock’s 1927 film is a world-first – an entirely vocal score running the full length of the feature. The resulting performance is an exercise in perfect vocal pitch and control – a virtual orchestra generated by five voices that gives fresh context to the images, creating a soundscape that completely engages the audience in the narrative.
UK 1927. With Carl Brisson, Lilian Hall-Davis, Ian Hunter, Gordon Harker. 108 mins.
A love triangle melodrama set in the world of boxing, this was Hitchcock’s one and only original screenplay and one his finest silent films. When boxer Bob Corby hires Jack Sander to be his sparring partner, he has no idea that he will become smitten with Mabel, Jack’s beautiful wife. The conflict between the two men gives rise to an inventive series of expressionist flourishes evoking the characters’ states of mind. Exhilaratingly bold filmmaking.
The BFI’s restoration of the ‘Hitchcock 9’ is the largest restoration project the BFI has ever undertaken and is only possible now with the help of new digital technology. The BFI holds some of the most important and earliest surviving copies of the silent Hitchcock films, including negatives.The restoration has enabled the discovery of extra material and will encourage a deeper appreciation of the precocious genius at work.
Workshops and Lectures
To offer audiences a full appreciation of these cinematic gems, the faculties of Letters in Agadir and Tetouan hosted a series of lectures and workshops on Hitchcock’s life and cinema work, led by the film journalist and curator Ian Haydn Smith.
This year’s edition of the British film Week was organized by British Council Morocco in collaboration with the CCM (Centre Cinematographique Marocain), Cinema 7eme Art, L'institut Français Agadir, Ibn Zohr University, Universiapolis, Abdelmalek Essaidi University, Cinema Avenida and Association Biddayat.
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