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This Cambridgeshire Film Consortium case study looks at the challenges of programming and engaging an audience for contemporary sub-titled and rare, silent films: Victor Sjöström's, Ingmarsönnernna (Sons of Ingmar) (1919) and Mikkel Norgaard's, The Keeper of Lost Causes (2013).

Ingmarsönnernna (Sons of Ingmar)

We held two screenings (86 attendees) supported by Film Hub Central East and provided programme notes, an introduction (Trish Sheil) and live piano accompaniment (John Sweeney).

Outcomes with feedback responses:

It was a highly challenging and specialised screening for our Head Projectionist who managed two screenings of 35 mm double projection and also created English inter-titles on a lap-top to screen over the print. We needed technical support for the lap-top to be operated during the screening to display the inter-titles at the bottom of the screen. Feedback forms were provided and responses are in italics.

"Blew all my preconceptions about silent film out of the water. What bravery to show it and how rewarding for the Picturehouse staff and audience!"

"Show Karin, Daughter of Ingmar sometime soon? Carry on showing films such as this thanks."

"Fantastic! The whole event was excellent. Good intro. Accompaniment brilliant. Subtitles work superb. Film brilliant!"

Internationally acclaimed pianist John Sweeney played brilliantly for both screenings and made the event a very unique experience as evidenced overwhelmingly in the feedback.

"Thanks for the opportunity to see such a wonderful film! The piano accompaniment seemed an integral part of the whole atmosphere.

Feedback indicates it was seen as a highly unique experience

"Thank you very much for this exceptional event! A lot of pleasure."

"Memorable occasion"…"special"

The audience appreciated the effort of the staff from the Consortium and the Arts Picturehouse in making this rare screening happen. Nine respondents specifically said thank you in the feedback:

"So thankful we have a cinema that organises such events "

Nine respondents asked specifically for more:

"More silent film with live music please!"

"Please offer more events like this!"


The unique experience of watching a rarely screened film with live piano accompaniment made it highly enjoyable for audiences and encouraged a demand for more of this type of event.