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After Alice, Beyond Lois: Mining the Archive with the Women Film Pioneers Project

October 27, 2023 – November 07, 2023

The Museum of Modern Art

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of Columbia University Libraries’ Women Film Pioneers Project (WFPP), a digital publication and film archival resource, MoMA presents a selection of films written, produced, directed, edited, photographed, colored, and titled by silent-era women filmmakers. Launched as an online-only platform in October 2013—with two celebratory film programs at MoMA dedicated to U.S. serial queens—WFPP was developed twenty years prior by feminist film scholar Jane M. Gaines, who first envisioned the project as a multi-volume book series. Since then, and thanks to the tireless work of its contributors, editors, library colleagues, and many graduate student research assistants (as well as international archivists and curators), WFPP has published articles on the careers of over 300 women—and counting!—who worked behind-the-scenes during cinema’s first few decades. 

This series, which encompasses shorts, features, and fragments from many different international film archives, mirrors WFPP’s global scope and interest in the diversity of women’s creative output during the silent film era. Through cross-national thematic connections and juxtapositions, the series brings together animation, experimental cinema, documentary, and commercial fiction film from Japan, China, Tunisia, Argentina, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Poland, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Russia, Georgia, England, Scotland, and the United States. Because the films of Alice Guy-Blaché, Lois Weber, Dorothy Arzner, Germaine Dulac, and Asta Nielsen, among others, have become more widely available to the public in recent years, this 15-program series aims to expand visibility around other women artists—some familiar names, most lesser-known—as well as to spotlight new archival discoveries and recent restorations, less familiar titles, and rarely screened films. Drawing primarily from the published essays on WFPP, this series puts just a small sampling of the richness of women’s contributions to early cinema on view. Highlights include Brides of the Frontier (1943), the only surviving film directed by Japanese filmmaker Tazuko Sakane; Las Naciones de América (1927), presumed lost until 2021, made by Argentinian documentary filmmaker Renée Oro; and Adam a Eva (1922), a cross-dressing comedy scripted by Czech actress Suzanne Marwille.

Organized by Kate Saccone, Guest Curator, and Dave Kehr, Curator, Department of Film. 

Film at MoMA is made possible by CHANEL.

Additional support is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by Debra and Leon D. Black, with major contributions from the Triad Foundation, Inc., The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art, and by Karen and Gary Winnick.

Press Kit


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A’Santanotte. 1922. Italy. Directed by Elvira Notari. Courtesy of Cineteca Nazionale. 

A Lady and Her Maid. 1913. USA. Directed by Bert Angeles. Courtesy of Eye Filmmuseum.

Adam e Eva. 1922. Czechoslovakia. Directed by Václav Binovec. Courtesy of Czech Film Archive.

Daisy Doodad’s Dial. UK. 1914. Directed by Florence Turner. Courtesy of Kino Lorber.

Buba. 1930. USSR. Directed by Noutsa Gogoberidze. Courtesy of the National Archives of Georgia

The Girl Spy Before Vicksburg. US. 1910. Directed by Sidney Olcott. Courtesy of Kino Lorber.

Hellbound Train. 1929-1930. USA. Directed by James and Eloyce Gist. Courtesy of Kino Lorber.

Kajastus. 1930. Finland. Directed by Carl von Haartman. Courtesy National Audiovisual Institute, Finland

Lev livet leende. 1921. Sweden. Directed by Pauline Brunius. Courtesy of Sweden Film Institute.

Das ornaments der verliebten Herzens. 1919. Germany. Directed by Lotte Reiniger. Courtesy of Deutsches Filminstitut Filmmuseum.

Phil for Short. 1919. USA. Directed by Oscar Apfel. Courtesy of Kino Lorber.

Soleil et Ombre. 1922. France/Spain. Musidora and Jacques Lasseyne. Courtesy of San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

The First Year. 1924. USA. Directed by Frank Borzage. Courtesy of MoMA Film Stills Archive.

Way Down West. 1927. China. Directed by Minwei Li and Hou Yao. Courtesy of Eye Filmmuseum.

Women of Ryazan. USSR. 1927. Directed by Olga Preobrazhenskya and Ivan Pravov. Courtesy of Eye Filmmuseum.