SOUNDS OF SI­LENCE

The count­down is on for young Kiwi film­mak­ers to score their three min­utes of fame.

North & South - - In This Issue -

Young Kiwi film­mak­ers seek their three min­utes of fame.

In­ter­na­tional Youth Silent Film Fes­ti­val founder Jon Palanuk was at the theatre en­joy­ing an or­gan con­cert in his home­town of Port­land, USA when he looked around at the older crowd and thought it was a shame young peo­ple were miss­ing out. “I wished there was a way to rein­tro­duce this piece of mu­si­cal his­tory to the younger gen­er­a­tion.”

So, in 2009, he launched a com­pe­ti­tion for young film­mak­ers around the world to make an orig­i­nal three-minute silent film. En­tries that make the fi­nals are screened to an au­di­ence, ac­com­pa­nied live by an or­gan­ist play­ing one of nine scores com­posed by tal­ented young New Yorker Nathan Avakian.

The New Zealand re­gional fi­nals will be held on Novem­ber 22 at a glam­orous red- car­pet event at Tau­ranga’s Bay­court Theatre, where the Mighty Wurl­itzer – the theatre’s fa­mous in-house or­gan – will rise from be­neath the stage to pro­vide a sound­track to the films. One of only four in the coun­try, the or­gan adds a sense of his­tory, says theatre di­rec­tor Me­gan Pea­cock Coyle. “You’re watch­ing a silent film as you would have 100 years ago.”

Ex­pand­ing the fes­ti­val to other coun­tries, in­clud­ing New Zealand, Iran and China, was im­por­tant to Palanuk, who’s been im­pressed with the qual­ity of our sub­mis­sions. “Be­cause they are silent, these movies can tran­scend cul­ture and lan­gage and go back to the very ethos of sto­ry­telling,” he says. “It’s ex­cit­ing to see what’s hap­pen­ing in the minds of young peo­ple around the world.”

Last year, 10-year-old Liam Dav­i­son from Welling­ton – the youngest con­tes­tant in the his­tory of the fes­ti­val – placed third in the re­gion­als and was flown to the grand fi­nals in Port­land. This year’s dead­line is Oc­to­ber 1, and you must be aged 20 or younger to en­ter (for more de­tails, visit www.make­si­lent­film.com).

Sound­track com­poser Nathan Avakian plays Bay­court Theatre’s Mighty Wurl­itzer at last year’s re­gional fi­nals.

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