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Film buff prayers answered: movies return to Manly

It has been almost eight years since the Manly Cinema closed its doors, but this winter sees a return of the big screen to Manly. But dare we call it a rather altar-native approach….

The ‘Movies at Manly’ festival, with assistance from Northern Beaches Council, is running a season of classic silent and sound films at St Matthews Church on the Corso.

The church on Manly Corso will used as a makeshift theatre through winter. Photo: Kelly Black

Across a number of Saturdays throughout May, June and July, a selection of retro films from 1917 through to the 1970s will be shown within the church. The festival will give cinemagoers the chance to see figures such as Fred Astaire, Louis Armstrong, The Beatles, Chaplin, and Buster Keaton back on the silver screen.

Included in the line up are five silent films accompanied with live music by a variety of superbly talented musicians, one of which is Manly local Riley Lee; a grandmaster shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) player. 

Riley Lee

Australia’s Silent Film Festival organiser Ronnie Farrar says the ‘Movies at Manly’ festival is also showcasing some important Australian films including the original award winning 1976 Storm Boy, along with Jedda (1955)- an Australian cinema classic that offers a glimpse into the heart of indigenous Australia through a complex story of cultural identity.

‘Movies at Manly’ is offering something for everyone though, perhaps except for lovers of more modern films. From the musical comedy A Hard Days night (1964) depicting 36 hours in the lives of The Beatles at the height of ‘Beatlemania’, to Buster Keaton’s silent masterpiece The General (1926) with live accompaniment from Mauro Colombis, as well as the 1927 love story 7th Heaven.

There is also the unique historical document that is the 1919 film South, which chronicles Sir Ernest Shackleton’s attempt to cross Antarctica from 1914-16.

The festival ends with a showing of the original 1940 Fantasia, offering the audience a chance to experience its beautiful animation beamed onto a screen above the church altar, with its timeless compositions echoing off the cathedral walls.

Farrar hopes that events such as ‘Movies at Manly’ remind us of the importance of the cinema, to not only show us new films but to remind us of the quality of original works.

“We want to restore the audience and bring the audience back to films,” he said. 

He also emphasizes the sense of community a cinema can bring.

“Watching a film in a cinema offers shared memories, and something we have in common. Instead of watching a film alone at home or on a phone screen, the cinema creates a sense of community and shared experience.”

“You can hear the audience ignite and connect with the film, and you can share that experience together.”

The films are being shown within the church itself on a screen that lowers down above the altar- it is important to note that St Matthew’s church consists of comfortable chair seating and not pews!

To see the full ‘Movies at Manly’ program or to purchase tickets please head to: http://www.ozsilentfilmfestival.com.au/cms/uploads/2021_programs/manly.pdf

 

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