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Silent nights

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The Silent Film Society of Atlanta and Emory University will try to prove that silence is golden with Silent Heaven IV: Silence of the Nights, a festival of rare silent and early sound films presented March 2-4. The six films were selected primarily for their rarity by Bill Eggert of the Silent Film Society of Atlanta and David Cook of the Emory University Film Studies Program.

The fourth annual festival begins Friday with German Night, featuring the two self-contained parts of the crime thriller Dr. Mabuse from legendary director Fritz Lang. Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922) introduces Rudolph Klein-Rogge as the master criminal of the title, while Dr. Mabuse: King of Crime (1922) follows his descent into madness, with both films offering allegory of postwar German decadence.

Russian Night on Saturday proves that there's more to silent Russian cinema than Sergei Eisenstein. Father Sergius (1917), directed by Yakov Protazanov and Alexandre Volkoff and based on a story by Leo Tolstoy, is one of the few surviving films from before the October Revolution. Ivan Pravov and Olga Preobrazhenskaya's Peasant Women of Riazan (a 1927 film also known as Women of Ryazan) offers a close look at the life of women in a rural community following the Russian Revolution.

Finally, Sunday strays slightly from the format to present a pair of early sound films. Released not long after The Jazz Singer, Rouben Mamoulian's Applause of 1929 offers another backstage musical, in which part of the fun for modern audiences is to look for places in each shot where technicians may have hidden the microphone. And in Kameradschaft (1931), Georg Wilhelm Pabst depicts French miners being rescued from a cave-in by German colleagues and offers a plea for international friendship in the era between world wars.

Silent Heaven IV: Silence of the Nights will be held March 2-4 in White Hall, Room 112, Emory University, with screening times at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. each night. Free. Call 404-885-1787 or 404-892-0943 for information.

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