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Egyptian Theatre
6712 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90028 Map
Fri, Jul 27, 2018 - Sun, Jul 29, 2018
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Co-presented by Kino Lorber and the Library of Congress

In the 1910s and early ’20s, woman directors were not uncommon. Some worked for the major studios. Some established their own companies. They were hugely influential in shaping the language of cinema, as the industry moved from short films to features. From comedies, thrillers, dramas and even Westerns, their films are visually dazzling, emotionally complex and defiantly controversial. Showcasing these ambitious works from the golden age of women directors also underlines what was lost by the marginalization of women to “support roles" within the film industry.

Arguably the original woman director, Alice Guy-Blaché was born in Paris and got her start working for camera manufacturer Gaumont. She was in the audience for the first-ever film screening on March, 22, 1895, but found “Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory” rather dull; a year later, she was making her own movies. Incorporating fictional narrative as well as rudimentary synchronized sound and special effects, Guy-Blaché was at the cutting edge of French cinema for nearly a decade before moving to America, where she established The Solax Company, which quickly became the biggest studio on the East Coast.

Among pioneering female filmmakers, Lois Weber may be even more revered. A former pianist and evangelist, Weber took to acting after the turn of the century (“I was convinced the theatrical profession needed a missionary … the best way to reach them was to become one of them so I went on the stage filled with a great desire to convert my fellowman,” she once recalled), and was hired as a singer at Gaumont’s U.S. branch during Guy-Blaché’s tenure with the company. Weber quickly rose from performer to writer to director, and with her husband-collaborator, Wendell Phillips Smalley, began making films for a variety of studios. An auteur on a par with D.W. Griffith, Weber’s work became famous for its willingness to tackle hot-button topics including religion (“Hypocrites”) and abortion (WHERE ARE MY CHILDREN?).

Weber was followed by other female filmmakers eager to explore social issues onscreen, including African-American Lita Lawrence (whose MOTHERHOOD: LIFE’S GREATEST MIRACLE was made at the height of national debate about eugenics) and Dorothy Davenport (whose white-slavery drama THE RED KIMONA was a rebuttal against knee-jerk moralizers). But if women directors were well-attuned to weighty topics, they didn’t skimp on entertainment, and some of the most exciting action of the silent era can be seen in the serials of Grace Cunard (THE PURPLE MASK) and Helen Holmes (THE HAZARDS OF HELEN).

Focusing on American films made between 1910 and 1929, this series illuminates a crucial chapter of our cultural history with lost classics that have gone unseen for decades. Key features, shorts and other historically significant footage of the era have never looked better than in these restorations, newly transferred in HD or 2K from the original 35mm and 16mm elements, digitally remastered and paired with new musical scores.

Read more about these films in an article by Cari Beauchamp on our blog.

Series compiled by William Morris. Program notes by John Hagelston.

Egyptian TheatreFri, Jul 27, 2018 - Sun, Jul 29, 2018
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Films in this Series at the Egyptian

Fri, Jul 27, 2018 - 7:30pm
Egyptian Theatre
Sat, Jul 28, 2018 - 7:30pm
Egyptian Theatre
Sun, Jul 29, 2018 - 7:30pm
Egyptian Theatre