Capitolfest, now in its 18th edition, is held at the historic 1,788-seat movie palace, the Capitol Theatre, in Rome, New York. The Capitol was built as a movie house and opened December 10, 1928 with an all-movie program including the First National feature, Lilac Time. The Capitol remains the only building in Rome, N.Y. (population c.32,000) constructed for the specific purpose of exhibiting motion pictures. Although the theater received a Modernistic face-lift in 1939, the auditorium is configured exactly as it was in 1928, and much of the original décor remains. Also still in place is the theater’s 3-manual, 10-rank Möller theatre organ.

Most of the films at the Capitol are shown in 35mm prints on the theater’s carbon-arc, variable-speed projectors, though some are presented digitally. The prints for the movies shown at Capitolfest come from archives such as the Library of Congress, Museum of Modern Art, UCLA Film & Television Archive, and Universal Pictures, as well as from private collections. The festival includes several extremely rare talking films, as well as some equally rare silents. Each of the silent films will be accompanied by some of the world’s foremost exponents of authentic silent movie accompaniment. The goal of the Capitol is not only to show these vintage films, but also to re-create the experience of seeing these movies when they were new. This year’s festival tribute stars will be Joan and Constance Bennett, and we will be showcasing the actors in several rare films from the silent and talkie years.

Back again is the Capitolfest dealers room, featuring films, videos, posters, and other memorabilia, which will be open throughout the weekend.

There will be a social mixer on Thursday, August 13 for Capitolfest attendees, as well as a dealers room grand opening. This provides an opportunity for festival-goers to casually meet one another and to become acquainted with the format of the upcoming weekend. Refreshments are provided. More details to come!

Capitolfest differs from other classic movie festivals in its leisurely pacing. There are intermissions within each session (sometimes featuring live organ music) and relatively lengthy breaks between sessions, allowing attendees to savor the films. (Thus our slogan: “A vacation—not a marathon.”) Approx. 90% of Capitolfest attendees come from out of town but, whether you are local or travel hundreds of miles, we want you to feel that the Capitol is your theater.

As always, Capitolfest organizers would be more than happy to provide interested parties with more information. There is an on-going discussion on the Capitolfest Facebook page. Patrons are also welcomed to contact us for information regarding transportation, lodging, or the festival itself. A detailed schedule of films will be released when completed. Registration rates TBA.

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