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Santa Barbara Courthouse Summer Film Series Gets the Silent Treatment

UCSB Arts & Lectures' free and family-friendly program will feature 'Classics of the Silent Era,' and a new series will premiere at Bohnett Park

Silent comedy films will be shown at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Garden next month for free, and family friendly movies formerly shown at Stearns Wharf will not be seen — or heard — this summer.

UC Santa Barbara Arts & Lectures will kick off its 5-year-old film series on July 9 at the university and two days later at the courthouse under the theme “Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd: Comedy Classics of the Silent Era.”

A live piano performance will accompany four of the courthouse screenings, which last year drew nearly 3,000 people to popular Alfred Hitchcock movies.

The free films are shown at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays at UCSB's Campbell Hall and at 8:30 p.m. Fridays under the stars at the Courthouse Sunken Garden. Screenings run through Aug. 22.

Movies at Stearns Wharf has picked up where the courthouse series left off for the past four years, but merchants have opted to discontinue the expensive showings indefinitely to revert advertising dollars elsewhere, said Patrick Henry with Wharf property management.

Family friendly movies can be seen this summer with a new free series at Bohnett Park, screening three Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. beginning July 9. 

UCSB Arts & Lectures this summer opted for a lighter theme with fun titles from a storied, soundless era following an attendance record-breaking summer of horror films.

To avoid the “land rush” seen last year at the courthouse, organizers also moved up the time moviegoers can lay down their chairs and blankets on the day of screenings from 5 p.m. to noon.

A warm reception given to a January silent film showing at the Granada Theatre provided the inspiration, said Roman Baratiak, associate director of UCSB Arts & Lectures.

Baratiak collaborates with the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, the Santa Barbara County Park Foundation, and the Community Services Department of Santa Barbara County to help provide entertainment that in previous years showcased musicals, monster movies and science fiction films.

“What I discovered over the years is how many people who have not seen the films that I had assumed they’d seen,” Baratiak said. “No one had seen Hitchcock. I figured just a lot of people hadn’t seen these silent films. I’ll be curious to see what the interest will be. They’re really great, and it’ll just be a feel-good evening.”

This year’s festivities will include a UCSB Arts & Lectures’ DIY Silent Film Contest and a silent film costume contest on July 25, coinciding with a brief talk given before the courthouse screening by UCSB film studies professor Dana Driskel and Neal Graffy about Flying A Studios, Santa Barbara's early silent film studio.

Click here for a complete list of film series screenings.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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