Capitolfest is Central New York’s 35mm classic film festival, screening rarely-seen silent and early talking movies from around the turn-of-the-20th Century into the late 1930s. Most of the movies are shown via 35mm films from archives such as the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art, the George Eastman Museum, and UCLA Film & Television Archive, as well as prints from studios such as Universal, Warner Brothers, Sony, and Disney. 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of Capitolfest, as well as the 20th festival (there was no show in 2021 due to Covid).
Rome, New York is a fairly small city (circa 33,000) located in the center of New York State, and the 1928 movie palace, the Capitol Theatre, is the heart of the city’s emerging arts district, which now features music studios, a dance studio, coffee shops, an art supply store, a wine bar, and a bookshop. The festival takes place over three days, Friday through Sunday (with a “pre-glow” movie on Thursday night for early arrivals), and each day is split into multiple sessions (three each on Friday and Saturday, two on Sunday), each session generally comprised of two features and some short subjects. Approx. 65% of the movies shown at Capitolfest are talkies made between 1928 and 1935, while the remaining 35% are silents with live musical accompaniment on the theater’s original installation 1928 Möller theater organ or piano.
Each year a tribute star is chosen, and in 2023 the tribute star will be Mary Astor. Miss Astor will be seen in several feature films covering a 20-year period of her career, as well as a few short subjects. There will also be numerous films with Miss Astor’s contemporaries on the bill. All told, something in the vicinity of 17 features and a similar number of shorts will be screened during the weekend. Capitolfest is noted for having multiple intermissions and breaks, the intent being to create a less hectic feel than would be achieved by “wall-to-wall screenings;” thus our slogan, “a vacation, not a marathon!”
(Titles will be announced as they are confirmed–schedule is generally complete by mid-spring.)