Curated by Oliver Hanley

Mariann Lewinsky once aptly described the A Hundred Years Ago strand as a “travel agency, organising excursions into the past”. So, what are the main “sights” festival attendees can look forward to on their guided tour through the year 1924?
The year 1924 marks the end of Swedish silent cinema’s golden age with the release of Gösta Berlings saga, which we are fittingly presenting in a new digital restoration. After this film, his last made in Sweden, Mauritz Stiller joined fellow countryman Victor Sjöström at the newly formed MGM studios in Hollywood. Sjöström’s second American feature, He Who Gets Slapped, continues our spotlight on “filmigration”, as does J’ai tué!, a French production featuring Japanese star Sessue Hayakawa, then on self-imposed exile from Hollywood allegedly due to rising anti-Japanese sentiment.
Emil Jannings’ poignant portrayal of the anonymous hotel porter in F.W. Murnau’s Der letzte Mann stands in contrast to his over-the-top personification of Nero in Quo vadis?, the Italian film industry’s infamously doomed attempt to re-establish itself as a major international player.
One of the most popular films released in a breakthrough year for Soviet cinema is nowadays one of the least known: Dvorets i krepost’ (The Palace and the Fortress). A unique, recently digitised, tinted-and-toned nitrate print of the abridged German version will be presented at Il Cinema Ritrovato for the first time, giving us a rare opportunity to experience a Soviet film of the 1920s in colour.
With Chaplin hard at work on The Gold Rush (1925), and Keaton’s œuvre having been restored and showcased at Il Cinema Ritrovato in recent years, the door was open to “third genius” Harold Lloyd, who is featured this year in the hilarious Hot Water.
We turn our attention to Hungarian cinema for the first time since 2019 with Béla Balogh’s second adaptation of children’s classic A Pál utcai fiúk (The Paul Street Boys). The winter sports drama Der Rächer von Davos, meanwhile, is the first feature-length Swiss production to be included in the strand.
This selection of classic and lesser-known feature films is complemented by fiction and non-fiction short subjects, animated cartoons, fragments of otherwise lost films, trailers, unreleased footage, and newsreel items. Particular attention will be paid to the avant-garde, and we continue to highlight the work of talented female film-makers, focusing this year on Canadian actor-auteur Nell Shipman (who can be seen in one of her last films, White Water), and British screenwriter Lydia Hayward (the brains behind the black comedy The Boatswain’s Mate).

Oliver Hanley