Silence, please: Kingsport church to present silent films for Fun Fest

Valerie Lick • Jul 10, 2018 at 10:32 AM

KINGSPORT — This Fun Fest, silent movies are coming back to Kingsport.

Mafair United Methodist Church will revisit the roots of cinema with a free viewing of two silent comedies. The viewing, which features accompaniment by organist Rex Ward, will take place in the church at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 16.

Rex Ward, who is the house organist of the Paramount Center for the Arts, will begin the program with a brief rendition of “Sousa, Stars and Stripes” and “Oh Say Can You Sing.” Attendees will then watch the two silent movies as they were designed to be seen: accompanied by rousing live music.

“He’s an incredible organist,” said Mafair’s music director Janet Lyon. Part of the fun of silent movies is that the accompanying musicians often come up with their own original music and sound effects. “It’s a lot of fun to hear the live music that they come up with.”

Which movies?

The two films chosen for this event are well-known classics of humor.

The first movie is Laurel and Hardy’s 20-minute comedy “Liberty,” in which two convicts try to escape prison while dealing with obstacles like police, construction and a particularly ornery crab. This is one of the iconic comedy duo’s most popular films.

Laurel and Hardy’s antics will be followed by the 25-minute “Mighty Like a Moose,” in which an ugly husband and wife each secretly get plastic surgery. Confusion and humor ensue when the two meet and, not recognizing each other, begin to flirt. This film is often considered one of the best silent comedies of all time. It was even selected for preservation in the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world.

Why silents?

This evening of silent movies will give attendees the chance to experience cinema the way it began, when the invention of “moving pictures” was new and groundbreaking. In a world of high-tech sound systems and CGI special effects, the church wants to take a trip back in time to see the classics that still influence comedy.

“It’s something you don’t see every day,” said Lyon. “I especially think that the young kids would be amazed at how movies began.”

No tickets are required; Mafair United Methodist Church will be presenting this event as a free Fun Fest gift to the community. Free popcorn will also be provided before and after the movies.

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