52 Silent Films by Woman (An Ongoing Project)

I’ve been thinking about this for a while but wanted to wait until I had a reasonable selection. A while back, Women in Film launched a challenge: watch 52 films directed by women in a year. And since the silent era was a rich time for women directors, it seemed like a no-brainer to assemble an all-silent list.

This is not a complete list of 52. Not yet. I will continue to add to it as I review more silents directed by women. (I have watched a lot more than I have reviewed and just because I have not reviewed it does not mean that I have not seen it.) However, I thought that over 1/3 of the way through this challenge (halfway if you count my second list) was a decent jumping off point and I hope you will get some ideas!

All films will be listed in chronological order and will link to my review. All films are generally accepted as directed or co-directed by a woman.

  1. Wonderful Absinthe (Alice Guy, 1899, France)
  2. The Cabbage-Patch Fairy (Alice Guy, 1900, France)
  3. Dance of the Seasons: Winter, Snow Dance (Alice Guy, 1900, France)
  4. Falling Leaves (Alice Guy, 1912, USA)
  5. Suspense (Lois Weber, 1913, USA)
  6. Mabel at the Wheel (Mabel Normand, 1914, USA)
  7. Won in a Cupboard (Mabel Normand, 1914, USA)
  8. The Curse of Quon Gwon (Marion Wong, 1916, USA)
  9. Where Are My Children? (Lois Weber, 1916, USA)
  10. ’49-’17 (Ruth Ann Baldwin, 1917, USA)
  11. The Star Prince (Madeline Brandeis, 1918, USA)
  12. The Love Light (Francis Marion, 1921, USA)
  13. Cinderella (Lotte Reiniger, 1922, Germany)
  14. The Smiling Madame Beudet (Germaine Dulac, 1922, France)
  15. The Song of Love (Francis Marion, 1923, USA)
  16. The Adventures of Prince Achmed (Lotte Reiniger, 1926, Germany)
  17. The Peasant Women of Ryazan (Olgo Preobrazhenskaya, 1927, USSR)
  18. Parabola (Mary Ellen Bute, 1937, USA)
  19. The Nose (Claire Parker, 1963, France)
  20. Here and the Great Elsewhere (Michèle Lemieux, 2012, Canada)

And here is a bonus list of films that I believe had an uncredited woman director or co-director but these claims are either disputed or it is something I suspect without direct evidence.

  1. The Lad from Old Ireland (Gene Gauntier, 1910, USA)
  2. The Colleen Bawn (Gene Gauntier, 1911, USA)
  3. Cleopatra (Helen Gardner, 1912, USA)
  4. From the Manger to the Cross (Gene Gauntier, 1912, USA)
  5. You Remember Ellen (Gene Gauntier, 1912, USA)
  6. For Ireland’s Sake (Gene Gauntier, 1914, USA)
  7. Diplomatic Henry (Mrs. Sidney Drew, 1915, USA)
  8. Fox Trot Finesse (Mrs. Sidney Drew, 1915, USA)
  9. Camille (Alla Nazimova, 1921, USA)

I hope I have given you some new content for that watchlist!

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3 Replies to “52 Silent Films by Woman (An Ongoing Project)”

  1. I would like to add to that list of women directed films with a few I have seen and admired: Shoes, Hypocrites, and The Blot by Lois Weber; The Red Kimona By Dorothy Davenport; The Seashell And The Clergyman by Germaine Duloc. A worthy topic!

  2. Someone should write a book about the frequency of female directors in the silent era, and how they were all banished (except for Dorothy Arzner) when sound came in.

    The IMDB credits Normand with directing 10 films, and Lillian Gish with one (the lost ‘Remodeling Her Husband,” from 1920). And Pickford was in charge of nearly all her films, regardless of who got the directing credit.

    1. The change was already well on the way before talkies. Once the studio system was established (as opposed to just having studios), women were steadily relegated to the background.

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