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Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers Celebrates Silent Era Trailblazers
Local musicians to perform contemporary, newly composed scores at two-day event


MILWAUKEE - Thursday, March 7, 2019 - 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:


Both hi-res and web-friendly film stills can be downloaded here:




About Milwaukee Film

Milwaukee Film is a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to entertaining, educating, and engaging our community through cinematic experiences, with a vision to make Milwaukee a center for film culture. Milwaukee Film operates the magnificent Oriental Theatre, a historic cinema palace committed to high-quality and accessible film and education programming. The 11th annual Milwaukee Film Festival will take place Oct. 17-31, 2019. For more information or to become a member, visit


Facebook: | Twitter: @mkefilm | Instagram: @mkefilm


About the Milwaukee Film Board of Directors

Milwaukee Film’s independent board is made up of the following members: Chris Abele (Past Board Chair); John P. Bania; Donna Baumgartner; Elizabeth Brenner; Héctor Colón; Karen Ellenbecker; Jeff Fitzsimmons; Alexander P. Fraser (Immediate Past Board Chair); Carmen Haberman; Susan Haise; Katie Heil; Patti Keating Kahn (Board Chair); Tracey L. Klein (Past Board Chair); Michael G. Klein; Michael J. Koss Jr.; Alexander Lasry; Steve Laughlin (Past Board Chair); Emilia Layden; Michael R. Lovell; Joan Lubar; Marianne Lubar; Steve Mech; Mark Mone; Susan Mikulay; Kenneth W. Muth; Bob Pothier; John Ridley; Joseph A. Rock; Ramona Rogers-Windsor; Lacey Sadoff; Dave Stamm; Julia Taylor; John Utz; Kimberly Walker; Emeritus members: Tom Barrett; Jacqueline Strayer

Posted by: Tom Fuchs