Film enthusiasts around the globe can’t keep silent about their love for Buster Keaton. The 22nd annual Buster Keaton Celebration will begin Friday morning and run until Saturday evening at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center.
This year’s program will also feature the notable Marx Brothers. “Buster Keaton and The Marx Brothers: Celebrating American Laughter,” will bring in several speakers on Keaton, silent film and the famous Marx Brothers. There also will be a Q&A session after each speaker.
At 10 a.m. is the annual Buster Keaton Museum tour in Piqua, Keaton’s birthplace.
The first session will begin at 1:30 p.m., Friday with an analysis from Lisa Stein Haven on “Keatonesque humor in Three Marx Brothers Films.” Haven is an associate professor of English at Ohio University, Zanesville. She specializes in silent film comedy, especially the work of Charlie and Sydney Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Haven organized and put on the “Charlie in the Heartland: An International Charlie Chaplin Conference” in Zanesville in 2010 and has been a member of the Buster Keaton Celebration Executive Board since 2009.
Frank Scheide will follow at 2:20 p.m. with his program, “Why Ruritania? Exploring the Marx Brothers’ American Melting Pot via Duck Soup.” Scheide is a professor at the University of Arkansas. He co-edited, with Hooman Mehran, the books “Chaplin: The Dictator and the Tramp,” and “Chaplin’s Limelight” and the “Music Hall Tradition.” He will serve as master of ceremonies at the festival.
Mehran has been a member of the Keaton Celebration committee for the past nine years and is an expert on early film comedy.
Film historian and archivist Robert Arkus has presented rare film footage at past Buster Keaton Celebrations. At 3:20 p.m., he will share Keaton and Marx Brothers rarities. He has contributed his talents to film retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art and Lincoln Center in New York City.
Friday evening at 7:30 there will be a screening of an Arbuckle and Keaton short film starring Buster Keaton and Fatty Arbuckle. Live music by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra will be provided. The 1933 hit “Duck Soup” featuring the Marx Brothers will follow.
Introductions will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday with registration at 8:30 a.m. There are no fees to attend the festival.
Rodney Sauer, pianist and score compiler, will speak about silent movie music at 9:10 a.m. He is the founder and director of the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. Sauer studied at the Oberlin Conservatory while majoring in chemistry at Oberlin College. He is an avid student of silent film music, and his article on the history and use of “photoplay music” was published in the American Music Research Center Journal.
Charlene Fix, a professor of English at Columbus College of Art Design, will present at 10 a.m. on Harpo Marx. She is an award winning poet and author of “Harpo Marx as Trickster” and will speak about his work.
Ono Hiroyuki is a film and theater researcher and playwright of stage and screen. As a chair of the Chaplin Society of Japan, he has supervised the Japanese official Chaplin DVD set. He is the author of five Chaplin books. The Chaplin Society of Japan is a Chaplin fan club as well as an academic society for Chaplin researchers. Hiroyuki will present at 11 a.m. on Keaton’s reception in Japan.
At 1:40 p.m. Mehran will present “Buster and the Marx Brothers: Six Lives on Stage and Screen.” Mehran has written numerous articles on the subject and co-edited two books, which offer in-depth analyses of Chaplin’s films.
A panel discussion featuring the presenters will be at 2:40 p.m. An afternoon screening of “The Oyster Princess,” will begin at 3:40 p.m. and the evening screenings will begin at 7:30 p.m. with “The Incredible Jewel Robbery,” a Marx Brothers sound short, and “Battling Butler,” a 1926 Keaton feature.
Funding for this program is provided by the Clopton Family Trust, Trustee Clyde Toland and the Kansas Humanities Council. Additional funding is provided by the Sleeper Family Trust, the Iola Convention and Tourism Committee and private donors. It is sponsored by he Keaton Celebration Committee in cooperation with the Bowlus Fine Arts Center.