In early 2015, Kino Lorber mounted a successful crowd-funding campaign for Pioneers of African-American Cinema. The overwhelming support of its Kickstarter supporters allowed the project to expand from from a modest collection of films into a monumental five-disc collection, fully loaded with extras and accompanied by an 80-page booklet. Because of the groundswell of interest and enthusiasm of its supporters, Pioneers became a film history phenomenon: spawning theatrical retrospectives, garnering praise in mainstream media outlets (National Public Radio, The New York Times, The Guardian, Turner Classic Movies, and others), and earning a video release in the United Kingdom.
Now, Kino Lorber continues the legacy begun by Pioneers of African-American Cinema with a new project, equally ambitious in scale, and every bit as historically significant: Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers.
Presented in association with the Library of Congress (and drawing from the collections of other world-renowned film archives), Pioneers will be the largest commercially-released video collection of films by women directors, and will focus on American films made between 1910 and 1929—a crucial chapter of our cultural history.
By showcasing the ambitious, inventive films from the golden age of women directors, we can get a sense of what was lost by the marginalization of women to “support roles" within the film industry.
The collection will be comprised of new HD restorations of both the most important films of the era, but also the lesser-known (but no less historically important) works: short films, fragments, isolated chapters of incomplete serials. The five-Blu-ray box set will include approximately twenty hours of material—showcasing the work of these under-appreciated filmmakers, while illuminating the gradual changes in how women directors were perceived (and treated) by the Hollywood establishment.
The full list of films is to be determined, but collection will likely include works by:
- Ruth Ann Baldwin: 49-’17
- Alice Guy Blaché: Canned Harmony, A House Divided, The Ocean Waif
- Grace Cunard: The Purple Mask serial (misc. episodes)
- Dorothy Davenport Reid: The Red Kimona
- Gene Gauntier: A Girl Spy Before Vicksburg, Further Adventures of the Girl Spy
- Helen Holmes: The Hazards of Helen serial (misc. episodes)
- Cleo Madison: Her Defiance, Eleanor’s Catch
- Frances Marion: Just Around the Corner
- Mabel Normand: Caught in a Cabaret, Mabel’s Blunder
- Ida May Park: Bread
- Nell Shipman: Something New
- Lois Weber: Fine Feathers, From Death to Life, The Rosary, Suspense, Hypocrites, Where Are My Children?
- Elsie Jane Wilson: The Dream Lady
The collection is presented in association with the Library of Congress, and in collaboration with Women’s Film Preservation Fund, George Eastman Museum, UCLA Film & Television Archive, Lobster Films / Film Preservation Associates, the British Film Institute, Archives Canada, and the Academy Film Library.
THE NEED FOR FUNDING
Like Pioneers of African-American Cinema, this new collection is so ambitious in scale that it is not economically viable as a traditional commercial release. A crowd-funding campaign is crucial in raising the funds necessary to produce such an elaborate edition, and just as important is the campaign’s effectiveness in raising awareness of the project, which will enable us to
Archival Access - In exchange for access to the original film elements, Kino Lorber will make donations to the preservation funds of the archives at which the films are stored. These donations range from $1,000 to $5,000 per film. The more money we raise, the more films we can include in the collection. Since we plan to release at least ten features and a selection of shorts, the archival donations alone will total an estimated $30,000. Typically, these costs are counted as donations to the archives’ film preservation funds—so your contribution to this project indirectly support the future preservation of other films as well.
Mastering Costs - Each film will be newly transferred in HD or 2K from the original 35mm and 16mm elements. Once the films are all digitized, they each undergo a thorough mastering process, including scene-by-scene color correction (to balance the brightness and contrast), digital dirt/debris removal, image stabilization, and, in the case of silent films, conversion to a historically accurate projection speed.
Musical Scores - One of the most costly stages of production is the creation of new musical scores for the silent films. Since First Women Filmmakers is comprised almost entirely of silent films, the scoring budget will be more than double than that of our previous Pioneers collection. We intend to commission scores in a range of musical styles, some traditional scores will approximate the original movie-going experience, while more contemporary scores will encourage today’s viewers to rethink these films by surrounding them in a unique musical context.
Booklet - The specially packaged five-disc set will include an 80-page booklet with a lengthy essay by series curator Shelley Stamp, supplemental essays by other historians, detailed credits and archival notes, and a bibliography for further reading.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
Illeana Douglas (Executive Producer) is an acclaimed actress, writer, director, and host of "Trailblazing Women" for Turner Classic Movies. Entertainment Weekly named her memoir, I Blame Dennis Hopper, “Top10 books of 2015.” Film credits include Cape Fear (1991), To Die For (1995), Grace of My Heart (1996), Picture Perfect (1997), Ghost World (2001), Max Rose (2016), and The Late Bloomer (2016). TV credits includes Six Feet Under, Entourage, Welcome to Sweden, and Modern Family. Illeana created the multi award winning web series Easy to Assemble for IKEA. She is the Executive producer and costar of the web series The Skinny (2016). She is the writer and director of Love Is Funny which will start shooting this Spring.
Shelley Stamp (Curator): A leading expert on women and early movie culture, Shelley Stamp is the author of two award-winning books, Lois Weber in Early Hollywood and Movie-Struck Girls: Women and Motion Picture Culture after the Nickelodeon. She is currently at work on a comprehensive history of Women and the Silent Screen in America, co-authored with Anne Morey. Stamp has served as a consultant for organizations including the National Film Preservation Foundation, EYE Film Institute Netherlands, Turner Classic Movies, and Feminist Frequency. She is Professor of Film & Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Bret Wood (Producer) supervised the creation of Kino Lorber’s Pioneers of African-American Cinema. Prior to that, he has designed and produced award-winning editions of silent and classic films for Kino Lorber, including the films of Buster Keaton, Thomas Edison, D.W. Griffith, Erich von Stroheim, Fritz Lang, Mario Bava, and many others. His films as director include The Unwanted and the documentary Hell's Highway: The True Story of Highway Safety Films.
Risks and challenges
Kino Lorber has been a leading distributor of classic and contemporary films for more than 30 years, and if we raise our target goal of $44,000, donors to Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers can be confident that the collection will be completed and released—and reward copies mailed to contributors in a timely manner.
The packaging may not be identical to the demo art featured on the Kickstarter page, some films featured in the promo video may not actually be included in the set (this is at the discretion of the series curators and the archives from whom film elements are being accessed). Our production timeline is an estimate based on previous projects of this nature.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)