Pleasant Home's annual Silent Movies on the Porch event begins Friday, Aug. 2. They are showing five shorts, but the lineup is being revised this week.
Originally, an in-house edited version of "The Playhouse," starring silent film star Buster Keaton was slated to be shown. In it, he plays all of the characters, including a scene where he appears in a minstrel show as characters in blackface.
The short movie, released in 1921, is groundbreaking for its special effects, but dated in showing a scene now widely considered offensive. The scene was edited out by Pleasant Home staff for a showing in 2015. Current staff were considering additional edits.
"It got a great response," according to Pleasant Home Foundation's interim executive director, Cathy Kestler.
So the film was placed on this Friday night's lineup curated by Thomas Holmes, who plays live piano music along with the silent films, and former Pleasant Home Program Director Sarah Najera, explained Kestler.
Although there are no legal issues with editing the work – the film is in the public domain – there was no note on the website clarifying that an edited version would be shown. Kestler said they planned to announce the editing and reason behind it at the showing.
However, a replacement film is being selected. Keaton made more than 75 films in his lifetime.
"It's important to acknowledge people's concerns, especially given the things that have happened in the last year or two in Oak Park," Kestler said. "The last thing we want to do is cause any more hurt."
Silent Movies on the Porch is a fundraiser for The Pleasant Home Foundation and attracts families with young children through seniors. They ask for donations of $10 per person.
The historic Pleasant Home is located at 217 Home Ave. in Oak Park.
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