Milwaukee Film
Press Release

Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers Celebrates Silent Era Trailblazers

Local musicians to perform contemporary, newly composed scores at two-day event

By - Mar 7th, 2019 12:49 pm

In celebration of Friday’s International Women’s Day, Milwaukee Film today announced an upcoming event showcasing the contributions of female filmmakers to the early days of cinema.

Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers is a special two-day event highlighting works by filmmaking trailblazers, including Alice Guy-Blaché, Zora Neale Hurston, and Mabel Normand. Running April 19-20 at the historic Oriental Theatre, this three-part celebration of cinema’s early female innovators will feature live performances by local musicians, who have composed new scores for the screenings.

“This is an exciting live event that we’re proud to present to Milwaukee,” said Jonathan Jackson, CEO and artistic director for Milwaukee Film. “I really think our audiences will be suprised by the level of daring they see from these female filmmakers in an era when women in the U.S. were still fighting for the right to vote.”

Popular Milwaukee musicians, including Anthony Deutsch, Amanda Huff, SistaStrings, and Nickel & Rose, have been tapped to create original scores and exclusively perform the unique compositions live at the event. The musical genres paired with each program span from jazz piano to American folk, providing each screening with a contemporary twist on silent cinema.

Dr. Tami Williams, associate professor of Film Studies and English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, curated the three programs in conjunction with the UWM Women in Film Pioneers Symposium, taking place the same weekend.

“Women’s participation in the first decades of cinema was much more extensive than previously thought,” states Dr. Williams. “As screenwriters, directors, and producers, women played an integral role in the early artistic development of the medium, bringing unique viewpoints and an imaginative exploration of crucial topics of the time, many of which remain surprisingly relevant today.”

The first program is the Popular Session and features an assortment of exciting shorts with masked heroes, river rescues, and queer cowboys. The second, Social Commentary, presents a stimulating variety of socially-minded shorts, including some shot by Zora Neale Hurston. The Avant-Garde third program is a feature-length presentation of Alla Nazimova’s Salome, a bit of art noveau by way of Hollywood grandeur.

Tickets cost $11 for each individual program, and Milwaukee Film Members receive a $2 discount. A pass costs $25 and includes access to all three programs plus a commemorative screen-printed poster illustrated by local artist Britta Naslund and printed by Split Fountain Press.

Tickets are on sale at

Passes can be purchased directly at


All Pioneers events will be held at Milwaukee’s historic Oriental Theatre, 2230 N. Farwell Ave., Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202.

Popular Session | Friday, April 19 | 7 p.m.

Featured musician: Amanda Huff

Purple Mask (USA |1917 | DCP | Director: Grace Cunard)

A Daughter of “the Law” (USA | 1921 | DCP | Director: Grace Cunard)

That Ice Ticket (USA | 1922 | DCP | Director: Angela Murray Gibson)

Algie the Miner (USA | 1912 | DCP | Director: Alice Guy-Blaché)

Mabel’s Blunder (USA | 1914 | DCP | Director: Mabel Normand)

Social Commentary | Saturday, April 20 | 12:30 p.m.

Featured musicians: Nickel and Rose; SistaStrings

Ethnographic Films: Fieldwork Footage, ep. 1-4 (USA | 1928 | DCP | Director: Zora Neale Hurston)

When Little Lindy Sang (USA | 1916 | DCP | Director: Lule Warrenton)

Bread (USA | 1918 | DCP | Director: Ida Mae Park)

The Risky Road (USA | 1918 | DCP | Director: Ida Mae Park)

Eleanor’s Catch (USA | 1916 | DCP | Director: Cleo Madison)

Ethnographic Films: Fieldwork Footage, ep. 5-8 (USA | 1928 | DCP | Director: Zora Neale Hurston)

Avant-Garde | Saturday, April 20 | 7 p.m.

Featured musician: Anthony Deutch

Salome (USA | 1923 | DCP | Director: Alla Nazimova)

A trailer for the series can be found here:

Mentioned in This Press Release


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