For over twenty years, FLEFF has produced its signature events: silent film with live music by musicians from the Finger Lakes Region, performing original improvisational scores. Film scholars introduce the film to invite audiences into deeper reads.

This year FLEFF celebrates the 100th anniversary of three films produced in 1923: a comedy, a drama, and a melodrama.


lil anne

Sunday March 26 2 p.m. ticketed event

with live music by Li’l Anne and Hot Cayenne

Safety Last! (US, 1923, 73 minutes)

100-year anniversary of the film

The comic genius of silent star Harold Lloyd is eternal. Chaplin is the sweet innocent, Keaton the stoic outsider, but Lloyd—the modern guy striving for success—is us. And with its torrent of perfectly executed gags and astonishing stunts, Safety Last! is the perfect introduction to him. Lloyd plays a small-town bumpkin trying to make it in the big city, who finds employment as a lowly department-store clerk. He comes up with a wild publicity stunt to draw attention to the store, resulting in an incredible feat of derring-do on his part that gets him started on the climb to success. Laugh-out-loud funny and jaw-dropping in equal measure, Safety Last! is a movie experience par excellence, anchored by a genuine legend.

Harold Lloyd (1893 – 1971) was an American actor, comedian, and stunt performer who starred in silent comedy films. One of the most influential film comedians of the silent film era, Lloyd made nearly 200  films. His bespectacled "Glass" character was a resourceful, ambitious go-getter who matched the zeitgeist of the 1920s-era United States. His films frequently contained thrill sequences comprised of extended chase scenes and daredevil physical feats.

Li’l Anne and Hot Cayenne is one of the top zydeco bands in the northeast. The band has been invited to play a variety of prestigious venues including the Rhythm and Roots Festival, The Great Connecticut Cajun/Zydeco Music & Arts Festival, the Saratoga Springs Dance Flurry, the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, the Great Blue Heron Festival, and Blast from the Bayou. In addition, the band has been invited to play venues typically reserved for Louisiana zydeco bands such as Johnny D’s in Sommerville, MA, La Belle Époque, NYC, the TK Club, Phila., PA, and the Somebody Scream Dance Series, Baltimore, MD. Li’l Anne & Hot Cayenne has appeared with and provided back-up to Willis Prudhomme and has been invited on stage with Zydeco Force, Sean Ardoin and Zydekool, Leroy Thomas and Roy Carrier. The current lineup includes Anne Stork, accordion, Peter Glanville, guitar, Paul Crowley, bass, Phil Shay, drums, and Gordon Rowland, scrub board and sax. All five members contribute vocals.

SPECIAL NOTE:  Harold Lloyd Entertainment, holders of the theatrical rights to this film and managed by the Lloyd family, think this might the first time in the 100-year history of the film that it has been accompanied by live Zydeco music!



Saturday April 1 7:30 p.m.
Ticketed event

Warning Shadows (Arthur Robinson, Germany, 1923. 90 min) Live music Cloud Chamber Orchestra, introduced by screen cultures scholar Michael Richardson

100-year anniversary of the film!

Warning Shadows tells the tales of an illusionist who turns a shadowy puppet show into a violent premonition of what might occur if the wife of a jealous German baron continues to flirt with dinner guests.

A little-known German film compared to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) and Nosferatu (1920), this film does not use any intertitles, emphasizing visuals and mise-en-scene.  It marshalls the strategies of German Expressionism with emotional states and  exaggerated sets and gestures.

About Cloud Chamber Orchestra

Searing, haunting, mesmerizing, the Cloud Chamber Orchestra’s improvised scores rewire the relationship between live music and silent film. Emerging from the exquisite live improvisations between Robby Aceto (guitars, looping and atmospherics), Chris White (cello, looping), and Peter Dodge (trumpet, baritone horn, piano, percussion, voice), this trios' dazzling, densely textured, evocative soundscapes suggest new ways to immerse in the landscapes of silent film.

Rather than driving a narrative, their rich, post-minimalist, post-ambient soundscapes open a way to see a film anew, as equal collaboration and ineffable dialogue between musicians, film, and audience. Accessible in their rhythms and arcs yet complex in tonalities and timbres, emotional yet intellectual, Cloud Chamber Orchestra's surround us with a new sonic topography of controlled form and out-of-control risk.



Friday April 7 8 p.m.
Ticketed event

The Extra Girl  (F. Richard Jones, US, 1923) starring Mabel Normand
Introduced by film and media scholar Lisa Patti

100-year anniversary of the film!

Because a movie studio confuses her photograph with that of a more ravishing young lady, homespun Sue Graham (Mabel Normand) is invited to Hollywood, Calif., to realize her dream of starring in the pictures. Things quickly go wrong when the studio puts Sue to work as a wardrobe assistant instead. Sue convinces her parents and her boyfriend, Dave (Ralph Graves), to join her out west, but when her folks are swindled out of their savings, getting even becomes more important to Sue than stardom.

Mabel Normand starred in at least one hundred and sixty-seven film shorts and twenty-three full-length features, mainly for Mack Sennett’s Keystone Film Company, and was one of the earliest silent actors to function as her own director. She was also one of the first leading performers to appear on film without a previous background in the theatre (having begun her career in modeling), to be named in the title of her films (beginning with 1912’s Mabel’s Lovers), and to have her own studio (the ill-fated Mabel Normand Feature Film Company).

That her contributions to early film history are not better known is attributable in part to her involvement in the Hollywood scandals of the 1920s, and in part to our reliance on the self-interested memoirs of her better-known colleagues (especially Sennett and Charlie Chaplin) following her death at age thirty-eight. It is hard to get an accurate picture from such questionable and contradictory recollections, or from interviews with Normand herself, filtered as they often were through a sophisticated publicity operation at Keystone.  Simon Joyce and Jennifer Putzi, from their  essay on Mabel Normand for the Women Film Pioneers Project

About Common Railers

Common Railers is original indie rock and American roots music from Ithaca, NY. A rockin’ four-piece band with guitar, upright and electric bass, drums, sax, flute and accordion. Original songs inspired by the likes of Tom Waits, Morphine, Los Lobos…Mike Costello: upright and electric bass. With Mike Costello upright and electric bass; Peter Glanville: guitars and vocals; Shane Hartman: drums, cymbals, percussion; and Gordon Rowland, reeds and vocals