Inspired by The Artist, Coral Gables Art Cinema Screens Vintage Silent Films

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​Who knew the film of the New Year would be one that's (gasp) both silent and black-and-white? Even while everyone is running out to slap on their 3-D glasses and peep Hugo, they're keeping their eyes on the past with the surprise hit The Artist.

The drama captures a potential romance and then career shift between a handsome, successful actor and a rising star, showcasing Hollywood in 1929, just as silent films transition to sound. Coral Gables Art Cinema has found such success with this newest wordless feature that it has decided to screen three weeks of the finest silent films.

The cinema is kicking off its free three-film Silence Is Golden series with Charlie Chaplin's love story, City Lights. Director of the cinema, Robert Rosenberg, assures that the film will be shown in the digital projection format, so City Lights will look its absolute best. Rosenberg says they chose this Chaplin film because it is "considered by many people to be his best film."

He's excited to introduce people who aren't familiar with the age of wordless cinema to this awesome, original format. One of his favorite silent films is Battleship Potemkin, a Russian classic. He has seen most of these masterpieces in classroom environments or on DVD, so he's looking forward to the series himself.

"I rarely have the opportunity to see those films on the big screen, and I think that it's a really great situation to be able to see it here, the way they were meant to be seen, with a great musical format." The experience will be different and rewarding, he promises.

"I started out in high school making Super8 films," says Rosenberg, who founded and directed the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. His first subject was a serious one, looking at those resisting the Vietnam draft. A documentary filmmaker, he was inspired by flicks with social and political relevance. "I think that film is a great tool to expose people to ideas or experiences that they otherwise wouldn't have had. It broadens peoples' minds."

Rosenberg notes of The Artist: "Old is new again." There are differences between The Artist and the older films, which he thinks make "it feel innovative and almost experimental."

Silence Is Golden is free so that people will be enticed to experience something old in a format that is likely new to them. Perhaps, in a modern twist, people will go to see Chaplin and be lured into The Artist.

Discuss the film at Cinema Conversations Saturday, Jan. 7, at 4:30 p.m. City Lights will screen Jan. 10 at 7 p.m., and two other films will show Jan. 17 and 24 at Coral Gables Art Cinema (260 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables). Tickets for The Artist are $11. Visit gablescinema.com.

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