Film Fest Gent screens

18 Oct 2013
On Friday 18 October Dutch musician and film critic Kevin Toma is returning to Ghent for a new silent film concert (following Hitchcock's "The Lodger" in 2012). Film Fest Gent asked him to compose a new score to Frank Borzage's silent masterpiece "7th Heaven" from 1927 starring the legendary silent film couple Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. On 18 October you can watch the film accompanied by a live performance by Toma at the Miry Hall of the Ghent Conservatory. Tickets are available now!

"7th Heaven" (1927) is probably the most famous silent film by filmmaker Frank Borzage, who to this day is underappreciated but was hailed as "one of the greatest American directors of all time" by cult director Sam Fuller. At the very first Oscar award ceremony the film scored five nominations and won three Oscars, for Best Actress (Gaynor), Best Director (Borzage) and Best Writing - Screenplay (Glazer) respectively. The film, which is based on a successful Broadway show from 1922, was the first film to star the magical film couple made up of Gaynor and Farrell. On Friday 18 October Film Fest Gent is presenting a unique screening of this gem from the era of silent films accompanied by a live performance of the new score composed especially for the occasion by Dutch musician and film critic Kevin Toma. Tickets cost €10 and are available via this link.

This screening also ties in with the large-scale retrospective paying tribute to Martin Scorsese at the Provincial centre for culture Caermers Convent. In fact, the famous director of "Taxi Driver" and "The Departed" is a great admirer of "7th Heaven". He considers Borzage, D.W. Griffith, King Vidor and Cecil B. DeMille, "the greatest illusionists to orchestrate visual symphonies". Scorsese believes that Borzage was "inspired by the pure power of emotions, thus turning melodramas into true love songs, bursting with sexual passion and wrapped in a mystical haze." "7th Heaven" is a love drama in which two lovers are driven apart by the start of the First World War. With this screening, Film Fest Gent is also taking a first step towards the commemoration of the centenary of the Great War with a host of events, which will start in 2014 through to 2018.

"7th Heaven" with live music by Kevin Toma 18 October at 7.30 p.m. Miry Hall at the Ghent Conservatory Tickets cost €10 and are available via this link. Below you will find the review of "7th Heaven" by Patrick Duynslaegher, Artistic Director of Film Fest Gent, published in his reference work "Blik op Zeven: Flashback op 100 Jaar Film".

In the Twenties Frank Borzage (1893-1962) made several spiritually charged melodramatic films, often with Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell playing the leading roles. All his films tell the story of two loved ones who are torn apart by higher forces, but manage to overcome all obstacles thanks to the almost religious character of their love. "7th Heaven" perfectly illustrates Borzage's belief in the healing and transcending power of love. The film tells the story of a Parisian sewage worker who takes in a desperate girl. They fall madly in love, but before they can marry he is drafted and sent to the front. They promise to think of each other every day at 11 o'clock sharp - a mystical form of communication that goes beyond physical reality. The only thing that counts for Borzage is his protagonists' emotions, which exude a moving, sensual purity thanks to the subtle, dreamy performance of Gaynor and Farrell. This is even further accentuated through close-ups in a luminous soft focus, in sharp contrast with the grim darkness of their surroundings. Ultimately their love defies time and space, but also death. The film ends with a miraculous rise from the dead, a beautiful scene in which Borzage's lyrical camera climbs up the stairs to the shabby roof apartment under the starry sky one last time. (*****)