Films of Buster Keaton featured in spring film series in Marion

Image of Buster Keaton courtesy of McDowell Arts Council Association

Press release from McDowell Arts Council:

International award winning composer-pianist Nathan Shirley will provide live music to accompany a Spring Film Series at the Greenlee Theatre of MACA in downtown Marion. The series, “Short Films of Buster Keaton,” will include four days of films: Part I, Sunday, April 9 at 3:30 PM; Part II, Friday, April 21 at 7:30 PM; Part III, Saturday, May 6 at 3:30 PM; and Part IV, Friday, May 26 at 7:30 PM.

Films during the silent era were most often accompanied by pianists and organists, usually improvising a musical soundtrack while watching the film. Nathan Shirley is reviving that tradition for this series and will be improvising for all of the more than a dozen films.

Nathan Shirley has performed his dark-melodic ‘classical’ compositions in Europe and on both coasts of the US. His chamber and orchestral works have been performed in over a dozen countries around the world. He has worked on a number of music education initiatives and in recent years has played for silent films throughout North Carolina.

Two years ago Nathan broke his right hand minutes before accompanying Buster Keaton’s The General. “Not knowing it was broken I decided to shake it off and go ahead with the performance. It was quite painful playing for a nearly 2 hour film with several fingers not working, but at least the audience enjoyed it!” says Nathan. After a full recovery, he recorded a new album and jumped back into performance, including silent films.

This film series will include many of Keaton’s best short films from the early 1920’s. “Buster Keaton was one of the most remarkable and important figures in all of cinema’s history” says Nathan. “His stunt-work not only goes beyond what anyone else was doing at the time, but it’s often so dangerous it simply wouldn’t be allowed in Hollywood today, CGI would be called upon to fake it. Keaton’s style of comedy and storytelling holds up impeccably today and his work influenced not only the future of film and cartoons, but of American culture. These are films that everyone will enjoy, young and old.”

Tickets are $5 for each day of the festival. Call 828-562-8610 or email to reserve seats.

About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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