Silent Film About Young Louis Armstrong to Screen in Oberlin, Ohio

Wynton Marsalis wrote the film’s score

Anthony Coleman as Louis Armstrong in 'Louis the Movie'
Promotional photo for 'Louis the Movie'

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Louis, a silent film about Louis Armstrong as a young boy, will be screened at the Apollo Theatre in Oberlin, Ohio, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. The free event, presented by the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Oberlin College’s Cinema Studies Department, is part of the theater’s grand reopening this month, following a three-year renovation. The multimedia production features a modern black and white silent film with live music performed by the Oberlin Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Dennis Reynolds.

Louis was written and directed by first-time filmmaker Dan Pritzker and shot by Oscar-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (Deliverance, The Deer Hunter and Close Encounters of the Third Kind). The film’s score, written by Wynton Marsalis, also incorporates pieces by 19th-century American composer, Louis Moreau Gottschalk.

The film stars Jackie Earle Haley, Shanti Lowry and Anthony Coleman. According to a press release, “The film pays homage to Louis Armstrong and the silent film era of Charlie Chaplin. Although not a literal biopic, the film is centered on Armstrong’s early years in the Storyville district of New Orleans when he received his first trumpet.”

The film premiered in 2010 with a five-performance domestic tour with Marsalis’ band. A slightly smaller ensemble reprised the project for two shows at the 2011 London Jazz Festival. A private screening followed by the encore public event on September 23 in Oberlin will be the third time this film has been brought to a theater with live music.

Running time for the R-rated film (for sexual content and nudity) is 70 minutes. Tickets are required, as seating is limited, and will be available at the Apollo Theatre Box Office beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 23. There is a four-ticket limit per person. The show begins at 7:00 p.m.

For more information, visit Oberlin and Louis.