In Movies & TV

The Oriental Theatre will host "Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers" on April 19-20.

The Oriental teams trailblazing women, MKE musicians for "Pioneers" film series

Milwaukee Film and the Oriental Theatre are already ringing in International Women's Day tomorrow with a special 70mm screening of the smash hit "Wonder Woman" on Friday night.

But celebrating awesome female voices on the big screen and behind the camera shouldn't be reserved for a single day, so next month the venue will host "Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers," a two-day tribute to some of the groundbreaking women making movies and defining a still young art form almost a century ago.

Running April 19-20, "Pioneers" is a multi-part big screen showcase for some of cinema's earliest female filmmakers. Spread across three parts, the silent era selections will be accompanied by local musicians – including SistaStrings, Nickel & Rose, Amanda Huff and Anthony Deutsch – performing original, genre-hopping scores live for the assorted 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, in a release. "I really think our audiences will be surprised 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."

"Women's participation in the first decades of cinema was much more extensive than previously thought," added Dr. Tami Williams, UWM associate professor of Film Studies and English as well as the curator behind the selected movies, in the release. "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 films are split into three collections: one dedicated to female filmmakers working in popular genres, one dedicated to women's work in socially conscious stories and one feature-length avant-garde selection: "Salome," directed by Alla Nazimova with a score provided by Deutsch.

Here is the full list of picks for "Pioneers":

Popular session

  • "Purple Mask": directed by Grace Cunard
  • "A Daughter of 'The Law'": directed by Grace Cunard
  • "That Ice Ticket": directed by Angela Murray Gibson
  • "Algie the Miner": directed by Alice Guy-Blaché
  • "Mabel's Blunder": directed by Mabel Normand
  • Featured musician: Amanda Huff

Social commentary session

  • "Ethnographic Films: Fieldwork Footage, ep. 1-4": directed by Zora Neale Hurston
  • "When Little Lindy Sang": directed by Lule Warrenton
  • "Bread": directed by Ida Mae Park
  • "The Risky Road": directed by Ida Mae Park
  • "Eleanor's Catch": directed by Cleo Madison
  • "Ethnographic Films: Fieldwork Footage, ep. 5-8": directed by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Featured musicians: Nickel & Rose, SistaStrings

Avant-garde session

  • "Salome": directed by Alla Nazimova
  • Featured musician: Anthony Deutsch

The popular session will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 19, while the social commentary and avant-garde portions will screen Saturday, April 20, at 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.

Tickets for each individual session cost $11 ($9 for Milwaukee Film members), while a pass for the entire two-day tribute costs $25 and comes with a commemorative screen-printed poster created by Milwaukee artist Britta Naslund. Tickets and passes can be bought at the Oriental Theatre's website. (PSA: While you're there, why not support a modern woman filmmaker and snag some tickets for Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra's Milwaukee Film Festival-approved crime thriller "Birds of Passage" as well? It's quite good!)


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