Beyonce and Jay Z, Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith might make headlines as some of today’s hottest power couples and #relationshipgoals, but this Valentine’s Day weekend, Hart Park is throwing it back to the original Hollywood duo.
In honor of the 100th wedding anniversary between Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr., William S. Hart Park and other venues around the city will host the inaugural Newhallywood Silent Film Festival, highlighting films starring Pickford and Fairbanks.
“This is our first silent film festival and an amazing tribute to Hollywood’s roots, and Pickford, Fairbanks along with William S. Hart are the founders of the industry who changed the way entertainment is dealt with,” said Santa Clarita Councilwoman Laurene Weste, president of the Friends of Hart Park. “Pickford and Fairbanks were the people who everyone at the time that everyone wanted to see.”
“We were planning this festival for Valentine’s Day and Pickford and Fairbanks were the first power couple in the movie business, plus when they formed United Artists William Hart was invited to join but did not,” added Margi Bertram, an administrator at the Hart Museum. “Silent films capture a different time and place where the film business began, and it’s important to understand where the industry started and how it has evolved. I think what also makes them still so fascinating today is how they told stories mostly without dialogue.”
The festival will kick off on Friday, Feb. 14, with the “Bustour” Keaton bus tour which will take guests around to different areas where silent-era icons like Charlie Chaplin, William S. Hart and Buster Keaton shot some of their films. In addition to the screenings of films like “Little Annie Rooney” and “The Mark of Zorro,” there will also be a pop-up exhibit at Hart Hall featuring costumes, props and other memorabilia from various Pickford and Fairbanks films. Rather than screening the couple’s most famous films, Bertram said the goal of the festival is to shine new light on some forgotten favorites as well as films that highlight the items in the exhibit. With the exception of the tour and a Valentine’s Day dinner screening, all of the festival events will be free and open to the public.
“We made this festival free because William S. Hart and silent films are such a central part of our local history and we wanted to make sure this is accessible to everyone,” said Carrie Lujan, communications manager for the city. “Some of the first westerns and silent films were shot in our picturesque canyons and open spaces. The festival is a fantastic way to celebrate the movies that were filmed here and provides the opportunity to share them with a new generation of fans.”
For more information about the Newhallywood Silent Film Festival and a complete schedule of events, visit hartmuseum.org/newhallywood-silent-film-festival.