Theme Month! April 2021: Forgotten Ladies Behind the Camera

Women screenwriters and directors of the silent era are enjoying a resurgence of attention and appreciation but much of the attention has focused on just a few names: Lois Weber, Alice Guy, Frances Marion and a few others. As deserving as these women are, it’s always good to dig deeper and show appreciation to some smaller but equally worthy names.

This month, we’ll be reviewing films written or directed by women who are not household names even among film nerds. (Or women who are famous, just not for writing and directing.)

To whet your appetites for what is to come, here are some other films written or directed by lesser-known women that I have reviewed:

Mabel Normand: Normand is very famous but more as an actress than a director. In fact, her talents behind the camera have been diminished and denigrated by both Mack Sennett and Charlie Chaplin. I attack those notions head-on in my review of Mabel at the Wheel.

Germaine Dulac: Sophistication and sensitivity are the signature qualities to look for in Dulac’s films. I have reviewed two of the films she directed, La Cigarette and The Smiling Madame Beudet.

Madeline Brandeis: Brandeis focused on films made for and about children and her fairy tale picture, The Star Prince, proved to be quite ambitious for someone who had not yet turned twenty.

Marion Wong: Another young pioneer, Wong raised funds for, wrote, directed and produced The Curse of Quon Gwon when she was twenty-one. It is the earliest known Chinese American feature-length film.

Olga Preobrazheskaya: The Peasant Women of Ryazan is a delicate rural tragedy that features strong performances and a severe condemnation of patriarchal society. One of the finest Soviet films of the silent era.

I hope you’ll enjoy our little celebration of women behind the camera and discover some new favorites.


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