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The Sound of Silents

  • Chris Scamurra, Director/Producer
  • Nicholas Reynolds, Director/Producer

About the Project

A feature-length documentary that details the story of the unseen heroes of silent films: the musicians and composers, especially prominent women and Black voices, whose innovative use of music and sound shaped the emotional depth of cinema– an effect that echoes into all modern film.

The film explores live musical accompaniment practices in early film, the technological and stylistic advancements of the silent era, the outsized role of women in silent film music, the paradoxical ironies of race in early American cinema, and international perspectives, from Japan's benshi narrators to Russia's high art focused approaches. These perspectives challenge prevailing understanding of the importance of marginalized voices in film. The film will detail the shift from silent film to the arrival of talkies, grapple with the tragic loss of 80% of silent films, and shed light on the revival and preservation of this art form.