Restored theater ready to welcome visitors with the return of the Capitolfest

The Capitolfest will be back at the Capitol Theater in Rome, 220 E. Dominick St., from Friday to Sunday, August 13-15.

Every summer since 2003, with the exception of 2020 due to COVID-19, Capitolfest has brought classic moviegoers from around the world to Rome for a three-day film festival that showcases the silent and talkative films of the early days of the 20.e century.

“It started off as a day and a half show, but gradually evolved into a festival that starts on Friday morning, sees another full day on Saturday, and then ends early Sunday evening,” said the executive director of the Capitol Arts Complex Art. Pierce.

Capitolfest offers films from the 1910s, 20s and 30s. Most of the films that make up Capitolfest are usually shown on 35mm film prints (not digitally), just as they would have been when they were new.

Many of these prints come from film archives across the country, such as the UCLA Film & Television Archive in Los Angeles, the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, the Library of Congress in Washington, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

“The films for Capitolfest are selected for their rarity, but also for their entertainment value,” said Pierce. “Those who select which films to screen scan through many pages of period film reviews to find titles worthy of inclusion, then work with film archives to unearth these overlooked gems. “

In recent months, the Capitol Theater in Rome has undergone a restoration to bring the theater back to its appearance in 1939.

“The grand reopening last month, July 17, gave visitors a first-hand glimpse of the restored theater – the perfect setting when Rome’s Capitol Theater turns back time on the cinema screen with Capitolfest 18,” said Rick Lewis , head of marketing. director of the Complexe des arts du Capitole.

Pierce said that one of the most rewarding things for Capitol staff about the Capitolfest is that the theater has the opportunity to showcase the excellent restoration work that the archives do to preserve these films.

“We think it is very important that these films are shown so that their work can be appreciated,” said the executive director. “As they say here, the last step in the restoration is the exhibition, and that’s where we come in. By showing these films in a 1928 movie theater, they can be experienced by an audience as they were when they were new. There are several wonderful classic film festivals across the country, but we are currently the only one that takes place entirely in a vintage cinema palace.

Each Capitolfest offers a wide selection of actors, titles, both silent and talking, as well as a featured actor. This year, Capitolfest presents Constance and Joan Bennett.

“Joan and Constance Bennett were unusual in that they were sisters who had successful careers unrelated to each other,” Pierce explained. “Although she has appeared in a few silent films, Joan has become a star with the advent of sound, and we will feature her in four films from her most prolific period on screen, as she rose from a All-Star All-Star Player, 1931-32, and another film from 1938, by which time she had become a big box office draw. We will also be showing her 1941 film, “Man Hunt”, directed by Fritz Lang, the Thursday evening before the Capitolfest. clean begins.

Constance, who was five and a half years older than Joan, had a career that began in the silent era and saw her grow into a star before her talkie debut in 1929.

“We’re going to show four of his films, including two from the silent era and two talking, the last one from quite late in his career, 1942,” Lewis said. “The two silent films will have live musical accompaniment on the organ in the Capitoline Möller Theater, which was installed in the theater in 1928 for the express purpose of providing music for the films. This instrument has around 900 pipes of different sizes and a full range of percussion and sound effects.

Film historian Kevin Brownlow has dubbed silent films “live cinema” because while the filmed portion was premiered some time ago (in this case, over 90 years ago), the musical accompaniment is created as the public witnesses it.

“We are fortunate to have three of the industry’s top silent film organists at this year’s Capitol, Dr Philip C. Carli, Ben Model and David Peckham,” said Lewis. “Besides the films with the Bennett sisters, there are several other films showing with stars such as William S. Hart, Spencer Tracy, Jack Benny, Cary Grant and Clara Bow.”

In addition to the three days of movies, Capitolfest has a social mixer on Thursday August 12 for Capitolfest attendees, as well as a dealership grand opening and a movie. This year’s film is “Man Hunt” starring Joan Bennett. This is an opportunity for festival-goers to meet each other casually and familiarize themselves with the format of the coming weekend. Refreshments will be provided.

To the last Capitolfest in 2019, participants came from more than 28 US states and regions of Canada. Tickets can be purchased for the entire three days, or for individual days or parts of days, including the Thursday night pre-festival movie.

For details on start times and a full schedule of films shown during Capitolfest 18, visit

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