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Inaugural Library of Congress Film and Sound Festival Set to Gather Film Fans, Archivists and Authors in Celebration of Rare Silent and Sound Cinema

originally published: 03/08/2023

Inaugural Library of Congress Film and Sound Festival Set to Gather Film Fans, Archivists and Authors in Celebration of Rare Silent and Sound Cinema

(SILVER SPRING, MD) -- The Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center announced the inaugural Library of Congress Festival of Film and Sound, a new four-day film event celebrating the Library’s rich moving image and recorded sound collections. The festival will be held in association with AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center and will take place June 15 to 18 at the American Film Institute’s historic theater in Silver Spring, Maryland.

The Library of Congress Festival of Film and Sound will bring together film lovers with authors, historians, Library of Congress archivists, curators and staff in a fun-filled weekend set to give attendees the opportunity to enjoy recently restored and rediscovered rare silent and sound films from the 1920s through the early 1950s in AFI Silver's beautifully restored 1938 art deco theater. Featuring many titles currently unavailable on home media or streaming services, the festival will showcase restored archival 35mm prints from the collections of the Library of Congress and other preeminent archives, as well 4K digital presentations of new restorations and rarities. All silent films will feature live musical accompaniment. This will be the first film festival devoted to showcasing the national library’s film collections.

Alongside a robust slate of screenings, the festival will also include presentations, lectures and Q&As with experts in the field of film preservation and history. This year’s program will focus on different aspects of “Music and Sound,” the festival’s inaugural theme. Topics will include the use of sound effects for characterization or as a narrative device; telling stories using sound instead of dialogue; using music to support melodrama or comedy; and the dramatic use of silence. 

Launching on the evening of Thursday, June 15, the Library of Congress Festival of Film and Sound will continue with three full days of programming, featuring screenings, speaker sessions with Q&As and additional festivities and surprises. Festival passes are now available at for $150. Passes grant admission to all festival programs taking place June 15-18, 2023.

"The Library of Congress looks forward to sharing these great films from the Library's collection with audiences at our first Festival of Film and Sound,” said Festival Director David Pierce. “The combination of guest speakers, outstanding films and a program that explores all aspects of music and sound will be a memorable experience and a unique opportunity to learn more about the Library's treasures.”

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Todd Hitchcock, AFI Silver's Director of Programming and Associate Director, noted the special collaboration between the Library and the American Film Institute.

"We couldn’t be more excited about collaborating with the Library of Congress to bring this special event to the AFI Silver Theatre,” Hitchcock said. “We are honored to showcase the vital restoration and preservation work done by the Library and other archives.”

Some festival highlights presented in archival 35mm prints will include:

“So’s Your Old Man” (1926) stars W.C. Fields as a small-town businessman who invents an unbreakable car windshield. This hilarious film confirms that Fields could be a star comedian even without his unique voice. The film was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2008.

“Submarine” (1928). Before his famous comedies, Frank Capra directed action films, including this love triangle set against a Navy background, where a potential disaster places duty over loyalty. The director’s humanity is evident in every frame.

“All That Money Can Buy” (1941) is the story of a desperate farmer who sells his soul to the devil (played with glee by Walter Huston) and turns to famed congressman and orator Daniel Webster (Edward Arnold) to get it back. A fantasy film about temptation and regret from German-born director William Dieterle featuring an Academy Award-winning score by Bernard Herrmann.

“Craig’s Wife” (1936). Pioneering woman director Dorothy Arzner made one of her finest films based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a strong-willed woman whose focus on control over her family leads her to risk everything she holds dear. Rosalind Russell brilliantly portrays the title role.

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“Memory Lane” (1926) is a poignant story of missed opportunities from master director John M. Stahl. This beautifully acted story of youthful romance coming up against real world practicalities provides a showcase for actress Eleanor Boardman as she has to choose between rival suitors and live with her decision.

“Frenchman’s Creek” (1944) stars Joan Fontaine in this rarely shown Technicolor adventure from top director Mitchell Leisen. Daphne du Maurier’s bestseller follows noblewoman Joan Fontaine, on the run from her husband, who encounters a romantic French pirate, portrayed by Mexican actor Arturo de Córdova. (4K DCP)

“Call Her Savage” (1932). Iconic "It girl" Clara Bow left the 1920s behind with this torrid story about a debutante turned wild woman. Mexican-born actor Gilbert Roland also stars. One of the raciest movies ever to come out of Hollywood, this lurid film is filled with melodrama and debauchery and is one of the definitive "pre-Code films" that later led to censorship of American movies.

“Dark Manhattan” (1937). Charismatic leading man Ralph Cooper also co-produced this ambitious all-Black film about a ruthless gangster’s rise in the numbers racket. Renowned Black actor Clarence Brooks plays the mob boss he pushes aside. (DCP)

“The Lady” (1925) has been unseen in complete form until its recent restoration by the Library of Congress and is a major rediscovery of director Frank Borzage and star Norma Talmadge. (4K DCP)

“Spring Parade” (1940) stars box office sensation Deanna Durbin as a farm girl visiting a romanticized pre-World War I Vienna in search of her dreams. This delightful musical features a wonderful supporting cast of Hollywood’s best character actors, including Mischa Auer, S.Z. Sakall and Franklin Pangborn.

“The Iron Mask” (1929). Douglas Fairbanks Sr.'s farewell to the silent screen was this rollicking and bittersweet swashbuckling action film, the sequel to his hit “The Three Musketeers” (1921). This seldom shown fully restored version includes all three spoken sequences and the original symphonic score.

“State Secret” (1950) is a noir thriller from Hitchcock's screenwriters Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat with a Cold War twist. Doctor Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. is brought to an Eastern European dictatorship and goes on the run from commissar Jack Hawkins when he learns a secret that could bring down the government. He teams up with showgirl Glynis Johns and menacing gangster Herbert Lom before being trapped with no way out.

Many more films will be announced later, including comedy shorts, Hollywood Home Movies, a Juneteenth program and a rare Spanish-language feature produced in Hollywood.

The first announced featured speakers include:

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María Elena de las Carreras is a Fulbright scholar and film critic from Argentina. She has a Ph.D. in film and television studies from UCLA. She is the editor with Jan-Christopher Horak of “Hollywood Goes Latin” (2019). De las Carreras is a lecturer in film history and esthetics at California State University, Northridge. Since 2014, she has conducted research and interviews for the Visual History Program of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. De las Carreras is a regular collaborator of the Latin American Cinemateca of Los Angeles.

Tracey Goessel - author of the acclaimed biography “The First King of Hollywood: The Life of Douglas Fairbanks” (2015). She founded the Los Angeles–based Film Preservation Society in 2014 and leads a multi-archive project to digitally preserve and restore the Biograph films of D.W. Griffith.

Jon Mirsalis - a scientist, film historian and silent film accompanist who has been creating silent film scores for over 40 years. He has performed at many venues throughout the U.S. including the George Eastman House, the Library of Congress, the Castro Theater in San Francisco, the Cleveland Cinematheque, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Pacific Film Archive.

Steven C. Smith - an award-winning author and four-time Emmy-nominated documentarian. His books include “A Heart at Fire's Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann” and “Music by Max Steiner: The Epic Life of Hollywood's Most Influential Composer.” Steven has produced over 200 documentaries on the arts for such networks as TCM, History Channel, A&E and National Geographic.

David Stenn – his writing-producing credits for television span from “Hill Street Blues” to “Boardwalk Empire” and also include “21 Jump Street,” “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “The L Word.” Stenn's first biography, “Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild,” became a national bestseller. It was followed by “Bombshell: The Life and Death of Jean Harlow,” cited by the New York Times as one of the year's notable books.

Additional screenings, speakers and the full festival schedule will be announced soon at

To buy festival passes visit:

To join the festival’s email list to receive future announcements, please send your request to

The Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center is headquartered at the Library’s Packard Campus in Culpeper, Virginia, with its Moving Image and Recorded Sound research centers in Washington, D.C. The Packard Campus is a state-of-the-art facility that acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of film, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings. It is home to more than 9.2 million collection items.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office.

The AFI Silver and Cultural Center is one of the nation’s premier film theatres, building an appreciation of the art and artists through exploring and celebrating new and classic films and filmmakers from around the globe. AFI Silver offers a year-round program of the best in American and international cinema, featuring a dynamic mix of retrospectives, special events, tributes, on-stage guest appearances, specialty first-run movies, festivals, premieres and education and community-based programs in a theatrical setting of the highest standards. Anchored by the stunningly restored 1938 Silver Theatre, the three-screen AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center is a state-of-the-art film and digital media exhibition venue that serves as a national model for preserving and honoring our shared film and film-going heritage.

Located in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, in the vibrant Washington, D.C., metro area, the AFI Silver provides ready access to restaurants, hotels, the D.C. Metro, and Dulles, Reagan National and BWI airports for local, national and international audiences. There are numerous restaurants within walking distance of the theater and several nearby hotels. Inexpensive municipal parking is free on the weekends.



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