Shoes (1916)

Dreaming schoolgirls to film pioneers: Silent Women at the Kennington Bioscope

The next Kennington Bioscope event is one very close to my heart. On Wednesday 10 February, the Bioscopers will celebrate the achievements of early female film-makers. It’s all in aid of a new book on the subject called Silent Women, featuring contributions from writers including Bryony Dixon, Shelley Stamp and Kevin Brownlow

Inspirational and informative, Silent Women will challenge many people’s ideas about the beginnings of film history. This fascinating book roams widely across the era and the diverse achievements and voices of women in the film industry. These are the stories of pioneers, trailblazers and collaborators – hugely enjoyable to read and vitally important to publish.

Dorothy Arzner calls the shots
Dorothy Arzner calls the shots

One of the most eye-catching chapters in the book is an interview with the wonderful Dorothy Arzner, by Kevin Brownlow. Arzner’s career spanned the silent and sound eras and she hasd a notably close working relationship with Clraabow, so she certainly had some tales to tell. It’s a fascinating read, covering so much ground, but this quote really appealed to me – and I think you will enjoy it too:

I was always known as a dreaming schoolgirl who wanted to do things that were impossible to do. Later it was done, but I was reaching all the time for something unusual. I always had something unusual in my pictures if I could catch it.

To honour the great female film-makers of the silent era, on 10 February, the Bioscope will show Shoes (1916), a brilliantly heartbreaking feature film directed by Lois Weber and starring Mary MacLaren. There will be live musical accompaniment and selection of shorts as well. I am very excited that I am going to be able to introduce one of those – it’s one of my all-time favourite films too.

Kennington Bioscope: Silent Women is at the Cinema Museum on Wednesday 10th February 2016

 

 

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