When is National Silent Movie Day? This day will take place on September 29 of each calendar year.
What is National Silent Movie Day? National Silent Movie Day is a day to celebrate and enjoy silent movies. Find out more at www.nationalsilentmovieday.org
Why is this day being celebrated or observed?
Motion picture film was first commercially produced in 1889, but the innovation of adding a pre-recorded soundtrack directly onto the film did not become standard until around 1930. This roughly 40-year period marks the silent film era.
Instead of soundtracks, silent movies had intertitles, which displayed character dialog or text that helped describe the events occurring up on the screen. The greatest directors of the period recognized the power of the image to convey story elements, and used intertitles only when necessary. Yet silent pictures were never truly “silent” as they regularly included live musical accompaniment on piano, theater organ, or by a small orchestra.
Movies from the silent period were printed on unstable flammable nitrocellulose film stock, which can deteriorate until the film is no longer viewable; it was also common practice for studios to destroy or reclaim the silver content from prints after their theatrical runs were completed. Many more films vanished when a number of studios had disastrous vault fires or simply destroyed prints and negatives when it became too expensive to store them. An estimated 80% of all silent pictures made during this time period are now considered lost forever.
However, thousands of silent movies still survive. Archives across the world work diligently to preserve and restore these remaining treasures and share them with annual film festivals, local arthouses, and film societies as they become newly available. Specialty distributors then expand their accessibility through releases on disc, streaming platforms, and cable networks.
How should this day be celebrated or observed? Anyone can participate! Ask your local cinema to show a silent picture with live music; watch a silent movie on a streaming platform or on disc; write a blog or an article for your local newspaper; read a book about your favorite silent movie star; or create a podcast. Use your imagination and post on your social media on September 29 to show how you celebrate the day. This is our moment as silent movie fans, academics, programmers, and newcomers to share our mutual love and appreciation for this unique period in motion picture history. It is also an opportunity to rally around surviving silent pictures that are still in need of preservation.
Who created this day? This day was established in January 2021 by Chad Hunter, Executive Director of Video Trust and Director of the Pittsburgh Silent Film Society; Brandee B. Cox, Senior Film Archivist at the Academy Film Archive, and Steven K. Hill, Motion Picture Archivist at the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Brandee B. Cox and Steven Hill are also co-founders of The Silent Treatment e-digest and Film Series in Los Angeles.