SYRFILM's October Surprise, Pt. 2: Richard Dyer's "star" power

(Dario Argento's 1982 masterpiece "Tenebre" provided the starting point for Richard Dyer's Syracuse Symposium lecture, "Darken Our Lightness: The Italian Horror Film," the first of three presentations the London-based writer made during his recent visit for the Forum on Sound and Music in Film.)

In moving to stake out and occupy the mid-October time slot it will occupy in 2010 after its first six years at home in late April, the Syracuse International Film Festival (SYRFILM) employed the unusual means of splicing together a high-end international trade show of film, digital and video equipment with a scholarly conference on sound and music in film, all slipped neatly into the narrow window of a weekend with no home football game at Syracuse University.

The five-day Expo/Forum (October 13 -- 17) included film screenings most nights. These began with Cristiano Bortone's Red Like the Sky, which took a number of honors at last springs film festival here and is the dramatized account of sound designer Mirco Mencacci's childhood discovery of filmmaking while a student in a state school for the blind. The screening of Fritz Lang's classic Metropolis (1927) was a co-production with the Society of new music and accompanied by a live musical performance. A previous SYRFILM award-winning film Billo, il grand Dakhaar (which SYRFILM will soon distribute on DVD), is also a Mencacci film. The Steadicam version of La Traviata, which Zubin Mehta conducting, was shot live in Paris for the Millennium.

The Forum on Sound and Music in Film was co-produced by Owen Shapiro, SYRFILM's artistic director and SU faculty in transmedia, and colleagues Theo Cateforis and Stephen Meyer of the Department of Art and Music Histories (formerly Fine Arts). The program included a master class in sound design by Mirco Mencacci, and talks and panels by leading scholars on topics ranging from musical accompaniment in silent film to scoring film versions of operas to 1930s cue sheets to love songs in Film Noir to Robert Altman's musicals.

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