Capitolfest is Central New York's premier summer Cinephile film festival - a place to see rarely-shown and newly-discovered films of the silent and early talkie era, held in our historic 1,788-seat movie palace. The festival's line-up focuses on obscure films that received critical praise in their time, but are now near-impossible to see. Regarded by attendees from the U.S., Canada, and Europe as a movie lover’s dream vacation, the weekend festival begins late Friday morning and ends early on Sunday evening. Screenings are arranged by session, with each session essentially comprised of a double feature plus short subjects. Each session contains intermissions and there are generous breaks between sessions (allowing for meals) as well.
The goal of Capitolfestis to not only showcase vintage films, but to re-create the experience of seeing movies as when they were new. The Capitol is the only remaining building in Rome 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. Included as part of the festival'ssilent film line-up is live organ accompaniment for each film, played on our original installation, 3-manual, 10-rank Style 70 Möller theater organ. Restoration work on the organ began in 2002 and, since then, it has been used on a regular basis to accompany silent movies. Each of the silent films screened at Capitolfest are accompanied by some of the world’s foremost exponents of authentic silent movie accompaniment. Eminent musicians such as Avery Tunningley, Bernie Anderson, Dr. Phillip C. Carli, Robert Israel, and Dennis James have performed on the Capitol's Möller theater organ in the past. Additionally, ensembles such as the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra have graced the Capitol's orchestra pit to accompany films.
Most of the films at Capitolfest are shown in 35 mm prints on the theater’s carbon-arc, variable-speed projectors. Prints for Capitolfest are provided by such archives as the Library of Congress, the UCLA Film & Television Archive, Universal Pictures, the George Eastman House, Warner Bros. Pictures, and Sony Pictures, as well as from private collections.