Philip Carli has two passions in life, playing the piano and watching silent movies. Thirteen years ago, he combined both his loves to form the perfect marriage--the Summer Silents film festival at MiraCosta College in Cardiff.
Friday, at the San Elijo Campus Amphitheatre, Carli will provide the piano accompaniment to the swashbuckling adventures of Douglas Fairbanks in the "Three Musketeers."
On Aug. 24, he will play again as the comedic talents of Buster Keaton in "Spite Marriage" play across the outdoor screen.
Carli, a 27-year-old Carlsbad native, began playing the piano when he was 5. At the suggestion of his mother, Ann, the director of MiraCosta's San Elijo campus, he launched the Summer Silents festival when he was 14.
Earning a masters in musicology from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., Carli found it increasingly difficult to make it home for the summer holidays, so, for the last three years, the Summer Silents festival has been completely silent. Carli said he is doing a return engagement at the request of an enthusiastic following.
"I've been fascinated by silent films since I was 5 or 6 years old," Carli said in a telephone interview from New York. "I constantly delight in the inventiveness of the best silents and the ability to convey a story in image and pantomime."
Carli said his job as pianist is to reinforce and accentuate the dramatic import of the film, not to provide a stock melodramatic sound. He rarely rehearses and largely improvises his performances, often only seeing a film once before show time.
What: The Summer Silents Film Festival.
Where: MiraCosta College, San Elijo Campus Amphitheatre, Cardiff.
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17 and 24.
Cost: $2 at the door, 10 cents for popcorn.