Vito Adriaensens Hosts Public Cinema History Series

Ijaaz Noohu
January 18, 2017

When’s the last time you saw a silent movie? And no, The Artist doesn’t count.

This spring, students and faculty members in the School of the Arts—as well as the public—will have the opportunity to refresh their knowledge of early cinema through a five-part screening series called “Silent Matinee” hosted by Vito Adriaensens, a visiting faculty member in the Film Program.

The series, which grows out of Adriaensen’s cinema history class this semester, will focus on films made before the emergence of “talkies,” in an effort to spotlight a less-talked-about era in filmmaking. “Silent cinema is an especially undervalued part of film history,” Adriaensens says.

In addition to showing films, Adriaensens plans to invite musicians to perform in concert, just as silent movies featured lived music in their heyday. Adriaensens hopes this aspect of the series, which will run from January to April, will enhance the viewing experience. “I feel it is my duty to get it out there in an interesting and stimulating program,” he says.

The first screening will take place Thursday, January 26, 2017 at noon in the Life Screening Room, in Dodge Hall, on Columbia’s Morningside campus. According to Adriaensens, it will be “a medley of early cinema shorts (from roughly between 1890 to 1910) with ‘attractions’ as a main thread; that means romance, comedy, nudity, and a host of interesting bodies.”

Accompanying the screening will be music by Adriaan Campo, a classically-trained Belgian jazz musician and postdoctoral fellow in biomedical engineering at Columbia. Campo is the lead musician for all the screenings, but he plans to bring in guest musicians throughout the spring.

This is not the first screening series Adriaensens has hosted. In 2008, at the University of Antwerp, he started a cinema club called The Moving Picture Show, which he ran for six years. And last year, at the School of the Arts, he programmed a series called “From Real to Surreal,” which focused on surrealist Belgian cinema.

For Adriaensens, having the series open to the public is essential. “When it comes to film history, I feel it’s important to share my passion with as many people as possible,” he says. “I hope to be able to reach out to all of those at Columbia who are interested in expanding their cinematic horizons, or who are just looking for an entertaining lunch break.”

All of the screenings will take place in Dodge Hall on Thursdays at noon on the following dates: “Cinema of Attractions,” January 26; “Art Films 1.0,” February 16; “A Star is Born,” March 2; “American Slapstick,” March 30; “Another Avant-Garde,” April 6.