Women Film Pioneers Project

Women Film Pioneers Project The Women Film Pioneers Project (WFPP) is a digital publication and resource that advances research on the hundreds of women who worked behind the scenes during the silent film era.
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WFPP features short career profiles on single individuals, longer thematic peer-reviewed overview essays, and shorter multimedia posts, all by film scholars, film curators, archivists, and historians. In our published profiles, we cover women who worked in national cinemas across six of the seven continents. This project began as a search for “women film pioneers” who challenged the established idea of the great “fathers” of cinema. Since researchers found more women than anyone expected to find, one principle came to organize the project: What we assume never existed is what we invariably find. Today, the goals of WFPP are to jumpstart historical research on the work of women filmmakers from the early years of cinema through the coming of sound; to facilitate cross-national connections between researchers; and to reconfigure world film knowledge by foregrounding the fact that women worked in many capacities behind the scenes on a global scale. Always expanding, WFPP is published in partnership with Columbia University Libraries, with support from Columbia University, School of the Arts, Film Program.

Another Gaze: A Feminist Film Journal
11/27/2019
Another Gaze: A Feminist Film Journal

Another Gaze: A Feminist Film Journal

"When I first watched a recording of Loie Fuller’s dancing on YouTube, my impression was of something eating itself: chewing itself up and spitting itself out again in new forms"
—Lauren Collee on dance, digestion and the underwater cinema of Painlevé/Hamon

Lois Weber
11/26/2019
Lois Weber

Lois Weber

"The result is a stunning collection of films that demonstrates the power, creativity and diversity of cinema made by women around the world, from Lois Weber’s silent film Shoes (1916) – right up to 2019 highlights The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg) and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma)."

“'The skeptical may not believe it… Hundreds of directors may scoff—But—There is one director who is efficient—and witho...
11/26/2019
Lillian Ducey – Women Film Pioneers Project

“'The skeptical may not believe it… Hundreds of directors may scoff—But—There is one director who is efficient—and without the aid of puttees. Introducing Lillian Ducey, directing Youth Triumphant for the newly formed Fisher Productions. Efficiency plus is said to be Miss Ducey’s middle name,' heralded the Los Angeles Times in reference to Ducey’s first job as a motion picture director in 1923." #bornonthisday

https://wfpp.columbia.edu/pioneer/ccp-lillian-ducey/

“The skeptical may not believe it… Hundreds of directors may scoff—But—There is one director who is efficient—and without the aid of puttees. Introducing Lillian Ducey, directing Youth Triumphant for the newly formed Fisher Productions. Efficiency plus is said to be Miss Ducey’s middle n...

Silently Yours: The 10 Best Silent Films on Blu-ray in 2019
11/25/2019
Silently Yours: The 10 Best Silent Films on Blu-ray in 2019

Silently Yours: The 10 Best Silent Films on Blu-ray in 2019

In our era of relentless "noise", if you will, there's a growing appreciation for silent film, as seen in the rise of festivals and the flourishing availability of silent film on Blu-ray. Fans and initiates are certain to enjoy Michael Barrett's 10 best silent films released on Blu-ray this year.

ICYMI: Last week, we added a joint profile on Cora Johnstone Best and Audrey Forfar Shippam.The pair's motion picture le...
11/25/2019

ICYMI: Last week, we added a joint profile on Cora Johnstone Best and Audrey Forfar Shippam.

The pair's motion picture lectures "point to other histories—of, for example, nonfiction cinema put in the service of documenting what would become known as extreme or high-risk sports, of promoting conservation, and of encouraging audiences during the 1920s to appreciate and perhaps venture out to meet the challenges posed by what was assumed to be a still majestic natural world." - Gregory Waller.

https://wfpp.columbia.edu/pioneer/cora-johnstone-best-and-audrey-forfar-shippam/

Virgínia de Castro e Almeida "took an interest in cinema during the first half of the 1920s, founding the production com...
11/24/2019
Virgínia de Castro e Almeida – Women Film Pioneers Project

Virgínia de Castro e Almeida "took an interest in cinema during the first half of the 1920s, founding the production company Fortuna Films in 1922. The company released two features: A Sereia de Pedra (1922) and Os Olhos da Alma (1923), both written by Castro e Almeida and directed by the French director Roger Lion. In 1923, she took part in the foundation of another production company, Rosy Film, whose only output was the non-extant commercial O Castelo de Chocolate (1923) for the Portuguese chocolate company Suissa.Virgínia de Castro e Almeida." #bornonthisday

https://wfpp.columbia.edu/pioneer/virginia-de-castro-e-almeida/

Portuguese film pioneer Virgínia de Castro e Almeida is still better known today for her work as an author of children’s books, travel literature, and digests on the history of Portugal. She was married to João da Mota Prego, an agronomist, and lived in France and Switzerland. She took an intere...

Did you get your tickets for the "Woman with a Movie Camera" program at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival's A Day o...
11/22/2019
WOMAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA: The Films of Alice Guy-Blaché

Did you get your tickets for the "Woman with a Movie Camera" program at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival's A Day of Silents yet? #ADoS2019

http://bit.ly/37xVbGm

French filmmaking pioneer Alice Guy got into the movie business at the very beginning—in 1894, at the age of 21. Two years later, she was made head of production at Gaumont and started directing films. One of the very first directors to make narrative films, her work is marked by innovation—she ...

Watch a fragment of NATTENS DATTER IV, starring Emilie Sannom, via Det Danske Filminstitut.
11/21/2019

Watch a fragment of NATTENS DATTER IV, starring Emilie Sannom, via Det Danske Filminstitut.

NY FILM PÅ STUMFILM.DK

...eller – 'film' er måske for meget sagt, for det er desværre kun et fragment af fjerde film i serien om NATTENS DATTER (1915-1917), der har overlevet tidens tand. Men netop derfor er det et særligt dyrebart stykke filmhistorie, som giver os et indtryk af de værker, der gjorde Emilie Sannom verdensberømt.

Mille, som hun blev kaldt, var Filmfabrikken Danmarks ubestridt største stjerne i 1910'erne, hvor hendes medvirken i et hav af sensationsfilm gav hende tilnavnet 'filmens vovehals' og titlen som Danmarks første stuntkvinde.

"Uden nogen egentlig træning eller nogen sikkerhedsforanstaltninger lod hun sig binde fast til drejende vandhjul og brændende møllevinger. Hun lå bagbundet i en væltende prærievogn og fastspændt mellem togskinner, mens et tog kom buldrende hen over hende. Hun susede afsted til hest, i bil og på motorcykel, klatrede over hustage og op og ned ad stejle mure, balancerede på line mellem skibsmaster og hang sig i en flyvemaskines understel," skriver journalist Freja Dam.

Læs hele artiklen her: https://www.dfi.dk/nyheder/emilie-sannom-filmens-vovehals

Se fragmentet fra NATTENS DATTER VI her: https://www.stumfilm.dk/stumfilm/streaming/film/33754

"A founding partner of the Goldwyn Pictures Corporation in 1916 with her husband Edgar Selwyn, his brother Archibald Sam...
11/19/2019
Margaret Mayo – Women Film Pioneers Project

"A founding partner of the Goldwyn Pictures Corporation in 1916 with her husband Edgar Selwyn, his brother Archibald Samuel Goldfish, and Arthur L. Hopkins, Mayo contributed the screen rights for 'Polly of the Circus' for her $75,000 share. Starring Mae Marsh and Vernon Steele, Polly became Goldwyn’s first production in 1917. " #bornonthisday

https://wfpp.columbia.edu/pioneer/ccp-margaret-mayo/

To become a playwright, all Margaret Mayo required was a plot, a stenographer, and a day. As reported in the New York Times in 1903, Mayo was performing a supporting role in “Pretty Peggy” at the Herald Square Theatre when she won a bet that she couldn’t complete a play in twenty-four hours (6...

"Throughout her career, which spanned 1915–1946, Frances Marion both adapted other texts and wrote original scenarios, s...
11/18/2019
Frances Marion – Women Film Pioneers Project

"Throughout her career, which spanned 1915–1946, Frances Marion both adapted other texts and wrote original scenarios, sometimes as a freelance writer but most notably under studio contract. Her Hollywood tenure was spent mostly in the screenwriting department at the premiere major studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where she worked closely with producers Samuel Goldwyn and Irving Thalberg. Marion’s relationships with writers, actors, directors, and executives as well as the crew and staff show an enormous generosity that extended beyond position or power." #bornonthisday

https://wfpp.columbia.edu/pioneer/ccp-frances-marion/

"The 'untold,' 'lost,' and 'forgotten' history of Guy involves more than the insertion of a 'forgotten mother of film' i...
11/17/2019
Do You Believe in Fairies? Cabbages, Victorian Memes, and the Birth of Cinema: Seeing Sapphic Sexuality in the Silent Era – Women Film Pioneers Project

"The 'untold,' 'lost,' and 'forgotten' history of Guy involves more than the insertion of a 'forgotten mother of film' into a naturalized and heterosexualized account of film history. The repetition of such rhetoric renders it natural and thus reproduces the status quo, as Patricia White has pointed out in another context. Much of Guy’s legacy stems from her persistence in combatting such gender stereotypes in her life and across her prolific body of work. Close attention to the lesbian cultural contexts and visual iconographies of Guy’s influential output reveals a radically different story about the so-called 'birth of cinema' than the ones we have been told." - Kiki Loveday

https://wfpp.columbia.edu/2019/08/27/do-you-believe-in-fairies-cabbages-victorian-memes-and-the-birth-of-cinema-seeing-sapphic-sexuality-in-the-silent-era/

"Mark and Jackeydawra Melford, father and daughter, were working together on a new film when he suddenly died in January...
11/16/2019
Jackeydawra Melford – Women Film Pioneers Project

"Mark and Jackeydawra Melford, father and daughter, were working together on a new film when he suddenly died in January 1914, and that film, The Inn on the Heath, was finally released in November 1914. We wonder exactly what stage they were at in the production in January, but the fact that Jackeydawra Melford has been credited with directing it suggests that it may not have been shot or was only partially shot." #bornonthisday

https://wfpp.columbia.edu/pioneer/ccp-jackeydawra-melford/

Jackeydawra Melford was really called Alice Bradshaw Jackeydora Melford. There are many ways to spell her name, but Melford herself wrote it as Jackeydawra. She was the daughter of theatre actor Mark Melford, who possibly named her after a popular comic opera that he wrote, and in an interview with....

Happy Birthday to Bertha Muzzy Bower!"Her most popular novel, Chip, of the Flying U, seemed to have been a favorite amon...
11/15/2019
Bertha Muzzy Bower – Women Film Pioneers Project

Happy Birthday to Bertha Muzzy Bower!

"Her most popular novel, Chip, of the Flying U, seemed to have been a favorite among moviemakers, as it was adapted four times. As most scholarship on Bower focuses on her literary career, information on her work in cinema remains sketchy and indeterminable. Nonetheless, several sources tell us that Bower was attracted to cinema and particularly to the Hollywood Western. " #bornonthisday

https://wfpp.columbia.edu/pioneer/ccp-bertha-muzzy-bower/

Festival Internacional de Cine Silente México - FIC Silente MX
11/12/2019

Festival Internacional de Cine Silente México - FIC Silente MX

Resistente, femenino y colorido: así es el cine que celebramos en la 4ª edición del Festival Internacional de Cine Silente México.
¡Nos vemos del 26 al 30 de Noviembre en Puebla! ✨📽

Happening tomorrow!
11/12/2019

Happening tomorrow!

Kate Saccone of Columbia University’s Women Film Pioneers Project presents a screening of the Soviet silent film Bed and Sofa (1927), a comedy set in Moscow during a housing shortage. Ben Model will accompany the film on piano. November 13, free with registration: https://on.nypl.org/bedsofafb

While theater actress Maude Adams never appeared on screen, "she nevertheless made a significant contribution to the fil...
11/11/2019
Maude Adams – Women Film Pioneers Project

While theater actress Maude Adams never appeared on screen, "she nevertheless made a significant contribution to the film industry through research she coordinated into lighting technology and color cinematography during the 1920s." #bornonthisday

https://wfpp.columbia.edu/pioneer/maude-adams/

Maude Adams was a hugely successful American stage actress of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She was perhaps most famous for her performance as Peter Pan. Whilst she never appeared on screen she nevertheless made a significant contribution to the film industry through research sh...

Happy Birthday to Marie Dressler!"Coinciding with a third Dressler feature, Tillie Wakes Up (1917), written by Dressler’...
11/09/2019
Marie Dressler – Women Film Pioneers Project

Happy Birthday to Marie Dressler!

"Coinciding with a third Dressler feature, Tillie Wakes Up (1917), written by Dressler’s friend Frances Marion, the Dramatic Mirror reported in December 1916 that Dressler and her romantic companion, Jim Dalton, formed the Marie Dressler Motion Picture Corporation (MDMPC) to supply producer-distributor Mutual Film Corporation with a dozen two-reel pictures based on the Tillie character." #bornonthisday

https://wfpp.columbia.edu/pioneer/ccp-marie-dressler/

"Ironically, it is her life before the cinema that has been described in detail: sometimes it is possible to know the ex...
11/08/2019

"Ironically, it is her life before the cinema that has been described in detail: sometimes it is possible to know the exact movements of Nina Agadzhanova-Shutko over a particular day, say, in 1914. It is her work in film that is little known by comparison—all because she was a revolutionary first, and a screenwriter second. The two lives famously intersected in 1925 when she wrote the synopsis for what was to become Battleship Potemkin (1925)."

https://wfpp.columbia.edu/pioneer/nina-agadzhanova-shutko/

We're excited to be co-presenting this Alice Guy program at San Francisco Silent Film Festival's annual Day of Silents i...
11/07/2019
WOMAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA: The Films of Alice Guy-Blaché

We're excited to be co-presenting this Alice Guy program at San Francisco Silent Film Festival's annual Day of Silents in one month from today. Don't miss it! http://bit.ly/ADoS_WomanCamera #ADoS2019 #womeninfilm

French filmmaking pioneer Alice Guy got into the movie business at the very beginning—in 1894, at the age of 21. Two years later, she was made head of production at Gaumont and started directing films. One of the very first directors to make narrative films, her work is marked by innovation—she ...

Happy Birthday to Elsie Jane Wilson!"Elsie Jane Wilson was one of the numerous actresses who began directing at Universa...
11/07/2019
Elsie Jane Wilson – Women Film Pioneers Project

Happy Birthday to Elsie Jane Wilson!

"Elsie Jane Wilson was one of the numerous actresses who began directing at Universal Pictures in the 1910s. The company first credited her with directing a series of films starring child actress Zoe Rae, all in 1917: The Circus of Life, The Little Pirate, The Cricket, The Silent Lady, and My Little Boy. Thereafter, she directed two features each starring Ella Hall, Carmel Myers, and Ruth Clifford. Unfortunately, much of her work has been lost or destroyed over time leaving a fragmentary archive that raises more questions that it answers."

https://wfpp.columbia.edu/pioneer/ccp-elsie-jane-wilson/

When asked by interviewer Frances Denton to comment in the pages of Photoplay on the question of whether or not directing was “man’s work,” Elsie Jane Wilson exclaimed, “I should say it is!” (50). Repeating the anecdote in his history of early women directors, Anthony Slide goes on to argu...

Film: Making the GradePart of the Making the Grade: Women Directing Documentary, Past and Present Film Weekend
11/06/2019
Film: Making the Grade

Film: Making the Grade

Part of the Making the Grade: Women Directing Documentary, Past and Present Film Weekend

What's on at the University of Plymouth: Film: Making the Grade, part of the Making the Grade: Women Directing Documentary, Past and Present Film...

A very exciting new resource!
11/05/2019
Discover the golden age of Danish silent films

A very exciting new resource!

From dogsleds in Copenhagen to spaceships bound for Mars – the Danish Film Institute is launching a new streaming site where you can watch both sensational and artistically experimental films from Denmark’s silent film era. For several glorious years, Danish films were popular around world, prod...

"Ruth Goetz, one of the most prolific writers for film in Germany in the period 1916-1927, with about sixty-five titles ...
11/05/2019
Ruth Goetz – Women Film Pioneers Project

"Ruth Goetz, one of the most prolific writers for film in Germany in the period 1916-1927, with about sixty-five titles including original scripts and adaptations credited to her name, is not well known today." #bornonthisday

https://wfpp.columbia.edu/pioneer/ccp-ruth-goetz/

Ruth Goetz, one of the most prolific writers for film in Germany in the period 1916-1927, with about sixty-five titles including original scripts and adaptations credited to her name, is not well known today. “The film writer is like a ‘violet’ that blooms hidden from sight,” she said at the...

NYPL Events
11/04/2019

NYPL Events

Kate Saccone of Columbia University’s Women Film Pioneers Project presents a screening of the Soviet silent film Bed and Sofa (1927), a comedy set in Moscow during a housing shortage. Ben Model will accompany the film on piano. November 13, free with registration: https://on.nypl.org/bedsofafb

"Today Aleksandra Khokhlova is remembered as the star actress in films directed by Lev Kuleshov in the 1920s and 1930s. ...
11/04/2019
Aleksandra Khokhlova – Women Film Pioneers Project

"Today Aleksandra Khokhlova is remembered as the star actress in films directed by Lev Kuleshov in the 1920s and 1930s. Indeed, at the peak of her career she was at the epicenter of the Soviet avant-garde, an icon of the experimental acting that matched the style of revolutionary montage cinema...Yet, Khokhlova was much more than Kuleshov’s wife and muse as in her own right she was a talented author, actress, and film director, an artist in formation long before she met Kuleshov." #bornonthisday

https://wfpp.columbia.edu/pioneer/aleksandra-khokhlova/

Today Aleksandra Khokhlova is remembered as the star actress in films directed by Lev Kuleshov in the 1920s and 1930s. Indeed, at the peak of her career she was at the epicenter of the Soviet avant-garde, an icon of the experimental acting that matched the style of revolutionary montage cinema. Look...

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