Early Women Filmmakers Cover

Flicker Alley, a boutique distributor of classic and rare films, contacted me about another great contest they’re running. Of course, I said yes to spread the word of their brand new release I thoroughly believe in, and I’m going to give you a chance to win a copy. It’s called EARLY WOMEN FILMMAKERS: AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY.

Projects like #52FilmsByWomen and TCM‘s TRAILBLAZING WOMEN have drawn attention to the often forgotten, neglected, underpromoted, and underseen works of women directors. These are contemporary problems. Women were involved in every aspect of the nascent film industry. Early women filmmakers made product intended to be consumed by an audience comprised largely of female peers, and stars of their movies were usually women, who were paid higher salaries than their male acting counterparts.

Despite their achievements, many early women filmmakers have been written out of film history, and their contributions have been undervalued or misattributed. As in the case of Alice Guy-Blaché, their “firsts” may have been given away to now more famous males. Flicker Alley’s new release EARLY WOMEN FILMMAKERS: AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY will be a resource for those wanting to learn more about the talented women of world cinema. New audiences, no matter where they live, will have a way to see and experience these movies, which is much better than possessing only academic knowledge of them. Restoring films to the canon requires accessibility.

On May 9, Flicker Alley releases EARLY WOMEN FILMMAKERS: AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY on dual-Format edition Blu-ray/DVD. The set showcases fourteen of early cinema’s most innovative and influential women directors, rewriting and celebrating their rightful place in film history. The directors are Alice Guy-Blaché, Lois Weber, Mabel Normand, Madeline Brandeis, Germaine Dulac, Olga Preobrazhenskaia, Marie-Louise Iribe, Lotte Reiniger, Claire Parker, Mrs. Wallace Reid (Dorothy Davenport), Leni Riefenstahl, Mary Ellen Bute, Dorothy Arzner, and Maya Deren.

The directors are represented by ten hours of material restored to high definition. Their twenty-five films span four decades (1902-1943). Many are rare titles not widely available until now. Expect shorts to feature films, live-action to animation, and commercial narratives to experimental works. These women’s technical and stylistic innovations pushed boundaries of subject matter, narrative, aesthetics, and genre. For a complete list of films included on the set, please visit Flicker Alley here.

Bonus Materials include:

  1. New Scores by Sergei Dreznin, Frederick Hodges, Tamar Muskal, Judith Rosenberg, and Rodney Sauer and the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.
  2. Booklet Essay by film scholar and Women Film Pioneers Project Manager Kate Saccone.
  3. Audio Commentary For Lois Weber’s THE BLOT (1921) by author, professor, and expert on women and early film culture Shelley Stamp, courtesy of Milestone Film and Video.

One lucky winner will receive a copy of EARLY WOMEN FILMMAKERS: AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY from Flicker Alley! The giveaway is open to residents of US and Canada, and the contest ends on May 22, 2017. To enter, comment on this post and then fill-out the form below. Tell me which early woman filmmaker you admire or want to learn more about!


In case you don’t want to gamble on winning the set, note Flicker Alley is offering a prerelease discount. If you order now through May 16, you will receive $20 off the $69.95 set.

Good luck!

Leave or Read Comments.

#52FilmsByWomen Quick Review: The Notorious Bettie Page (2005)

Gretechn Mol and tigers The Notorious Bettie Page still

Last night I watched The Notorious Bettie Page (2005) because it was her birthday. Gretchen Mol does a great job in embodying Bettie, which took guts. Mol had to know what scrutiny she’d be under to look like the famous model, replicate her ease and joy in posing, and radiate a personality that made much of her more extreme work seem like softer, campy fun, but still sexy. Mary Harron makes sure there’s a humor to the film, and she showcases many of her actresses’ work over the supporting male actors’. The soundtrack and visuals are of the era. The living magazine covers are a nice touch. For feminists the movie will have an empowering, sex positive appeal. Bettie is shown having agency to pose or to retire into her Christian faith without regretting her life or actions and without her beliefs being knocked. Her journey is respected. The movie ends early in her life with no hint of her later mental health struggles. A positive portrayal of a woman, whose later years I wish were as happy as many scenes in this film.

More about #52FilmsByWomen here.

Leave or Read Comments.

Le Schpountz (1938)

This weekend a cattle call was held for Steven Soderbergh’s new film Contagion. I thought about going and trying to be an extra. Then I read an article about Saturday’s casting session. Thousands of people showed up. All were hoping to be caught on camera a moment and thus be immortalized or at least earn some bragging rights and easy dough. When I saw a picture of the lines and read that non-union extras would make $64 a day plus meals, my own little fantasy went poof. Everyone who loves movies would love to be in one. I’m no exception, but I have a strong practical side, and it asked me, “Why lose hours waiting to audition for something that even if won would amount to so little?” Perhaps I was influenced by the latest movie I am watching, Le Schpountz.

Le Schpountz stars beloved French comedian Fernandel. He is the title character. Schpountz seems to be a hard word to translate. One source says it means simple-minded, while another describes it as a country bumpkin, while a third states it’s a person with an overblown sense of self-importance. Marseillais filmmaker Marcel Pagnol became familiar with a schpountz on the set of Angèle. Convinced he was an undiscovered star, a local man pestered Pagnol and his crew daily. They grew tired of his antics and gave him a fake contract which promised him not just any role, but one that was supposed to be Charles Boyer‘s.

Le Schpountz echoes Pagnol’s experience. Fernandel plays Irénée. He toils away in his uncle‘s shop daydreaming of a better life. When a film crew experiences car trouble and stops to buy a pan, Irénée is convinced a divine intervention has happened. Still in his pajamas he hops on the back of their car to follow them. Once he befriends them, he rushes back home and dresses in his best suit to present himself to them properly. He needs their validation, and he performs a number to show them his talent. He doesn’t realize they are mocking him, and he is taken when presented a contract offering fantastic terms that no diva or divo ever had the presumption to demand. He will go to Paris to his stardom.

Here is the majority of the scene where the concept of a schpountz is explained:

The filmmakers are presented as an arrogant sort. They know the excitement their presence generates, and they know that a good number of the people they meet will want something from them–affirmation, yet those people drawn to the crew can recognize their own fault in others, but not themselves. They are comedic, but ultimately more sympathetic.

And everything turns meta when Irénée auditions. After all he is Fernandel, and Fernandel has presence and he can entertain. We laugh at his antics not only because his character is silly, but also because such silliness is played with great skill and charisma.

I was too tired from my Utah trip to finish the film the other night, but I’m looking forward to watching the rest with my husband tonight. I’m eager to see what happens to Irénée when he reaches Paris. He can live the dream for all of us, wherever Pagnol decides it takes Irénée.