Silent Movie Day Date in the current year: September 29, 2024

Silent Movie Day Silent Movie Day is observed annually on September 29. It was created to celebrate and enjoy silent movies – a neglected and misunderstood art form – highlight their important role in film history, and promote their preservation.

A silent film is a film that has no synchronized recorded sound. The terms “silent film” and “silent film era” were created retroactively to distinguish early films without synchronized sound and the early era in the history of cinema from sound films and the sound era.

However, silent films were never truly silent. Although they didn’t have recorded spoken dialogue or sound effects, film screenings during the silent era were almost always accompanied by live music played by a pianist, theater organist, or even a small orchestra.

Since silent films had no dialogue, film directors resorted to other ways of conveying emotion and narrative. They included exaggerated facial expressions and body language, and the use of title carts (intertitles) to provide narration or dialogue. Some modern viewers see the exaggerated acting in silent films as a flaw, but it was intentional and in some cases caused by the stage experience that most early film actors had.

Sadly, between 70% to 80% of silent films made in the United States have been lost for a number of reasons that include deterioration of unstable nitrocellulose film stock, deliberate destruction by studios to reduce costs associated with storing prints and negatives, and disastrous vault fires. However, thousands of silent movies have survived; they are preserved by film archivists around the globe, and specialty distributors work to share them with audiences at special screenings, film festivals, and other events.

Silent Movie Day was created in 2021 by three dedicated film archivists who had fallen in love with silent cinema and wanted other people to fall in love with it as well. Originally named National Silent Movie Day, it was established to celebrate the history of silent cinema and raise awareness of the importance of preserving surviving silent movies. In 2022, the word “national” was dropped from the name of the holiday because the celebration of silent movies should not be restricted to a single country.

Silent Movie Day events (theatrical and virtual screenings of silent films, lectures on silent movies, etc.) are meant to introduce people to the beauty of silent cinema, dispel the negative stereotypes surrounding silent movies, and advocate for the preservation and easy access to silent films. On September 29, silent movie enthusiasts share their appreciation of this unique art form with others and educate people about the historic and cultural significance of silent cinema.

If there are no Silent Movie Day events near you, you can celebrate the holiday by organizing an event of your own, hosting a watch party for your friends and family, sharing silent film recommendations on social media, donating to a project dedicated to preserving silent movies and making them accessible to a wide audience, reading a book or watching a documentary about the history of silent cinema, and spreading awareness of the holiday with the hashtags #SilentMovieDay and #SMD.

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