After an early career as a movie cowboy, Frank Borzage (1893–1962) made his reputation as a director of melodramas whose perennial theme was the sublimity of desire, the sexual and the spiritual intimately entwined. His exquisitely sensitive storytelling garnered box-office success and multiple Academy Awards (including the first ever for Best Director) in both the silent and sound eras, while the implied equation of lust and transcendence endeared his work to the Surrealists. The tragic-ecstatic plots of many of his films suggest that the only true freedom is freedom from this world, yet Borzage's lovers are very much of their worlds and times, and their private realms cannot be divorced from physical and social realities that are no less vivid for being depicted on a soundstage. Facing the threat of war or the degradations of poverty, with stars in the gutter and pigeons for doves, his characters repeatedly discover that you have to sink low to rise above. PFA is pleased to present a selection of the director's finest films, many in beautiful archival prints. Surrender to this series and experience Borzage's emotional and ethical chiaroscuro in all its luminous shades.
Please note: Three of Borzage's greatest silents, 7th Heaven, Street Angel, and Lucky Star, are presented as part of our tribute to actress Janet Gaynor.
Piano Accompaniment for Silent Films
Judith F. Rosenberg has provided piano accompaniment for silent films at PFA since 2000. Since 1973 she has been artist/lecturer and music director of the dance department at Mills College. Rosenberg has also performed at the Niles Silent Film Series and the Castro Theatre. She will accompany many of the films in our Janet Gaynor and Frank Borzage series, as well as our Winsor McCay program on August 26.
Jon C. Mirsalis has been providing piano accompaniment for silent film screenings for thirty years. In addition to his work at PFA, he is currently a regular pianist at the Niles Film Museum, and has performed at numerous film festivals and other venues throughout the United States. He has also recorded scores for many video and DVD releases. On August 5, he will reprise his performance of Borzage's Lazybones, which PFA audiences last enjoyed in 1998.