Sonic Silents


A trio of masters of American country music provide live musical accompaniment to some of the earliest short films to have emerged from Hollywood, by pioneering director Frank Borzage.

Beginning his career as a successful and sought-after actor, Frank Borzage started directing short films in 1915, and won the first ever ‘Academy Award for Directing’ in 1927, for Seventh Heaven. Famed for his focus on the emotional and sensual elements of stories, Borzage was a true Hollywood maverick. Rejecting conventions, he offered an insight into the lives of early settlers in such a way that gives modern audiences a refreshing new-look at a long established film tradition.

Two of Borzage’s earliest short films will be screened with live musical accompaniment from a trio of masters of American country music. Luminary of old-time American old-time country music and champion Maryland fiddle player Kate Lissauer (Buffalo Girls) is joined by master of the five string banjo John Whelan, and Jason Titley, arguably the UK’s finest bluegrass guitarist for two special performances in Dorset this autumn through Artsreach.

Together they perform a new live score of original compositions and arrangements of original material to The Pilgrim (1916) and The Pitch o’Chance (1915). These films offer an absorbing and poignant glimpse of a bygone time, and of the creative forces that shaped the film making industry. Ranging from lively to melancholy, the music is evocative, bringing the films fully to life.