The First Born (1928), Thursday 20 October 2011, 7:30pm, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Very excitingly, The First Born, co-scripted by Alma Reville, is the BFI National Archive Gala screening at the 55th BFI London Film Festival. The film has been restored by the BFI and this version is several minutes longer than the one previously shown in London and Pordenone. The First Born will be screened with a new score by Stephen Horne, featuring Horne with Janey Miller and Martin Pyne. Read more on the festival website here and here on the Guardian film blog.


Doing Women’s Film History: Reframing Cinema History

Centre for Research in Media Cultural Studies, University of Sunderland, 13-15 April 2011

Women’s Film History Network – UK/Ireland is pleased to announce an AHRC-funded international conference which will bring together researchers in women’s film history, archivists, collections managers and contemporary women practitioners. It will explore current developments in researching women’s participation in film production, distribution, exhibition, criticism and film-going in different parts of the world and in all periods. It will ask what the discovery and documentation of women’s past activity in and around cinema implies for the writing of film history in general and will consider how the history of post-1970s women’s filmmaking is to be resourced and developed. The conference will seek to address issues such as:

• women’s film historiography: filling gaps in existing film history or changing film history?

• impact of gender-oriented research methods & sources for the histories of male and female workers

• gender in the archives, catalogues and collections

• impact of women on cinema as audiences, campaigners, fans

• relationship between feminism, women’s and gender histories

• crossing the silent/sound history divide

• women’s film history after second wave feminism

• national/international/transnational connections and interactions

• creation of canons, exhibition & programming practices, curricula and teaching

• relation of women’s film history then and women’s film practice now

The Conference will also report on and seek feedback on three Workshops that will have preceded it in order to involve wider participation in developing the future of the Network.


The 14th British Silent Film Festival: Going to the Movies: Music, Sound and the Silent British Film

Barbican, London, 7-10 April 2011

Music and sound in silent film will be our key themes during the four days of the 2011 British Silent Film Festival. A packed programme of rare silent films will explore how filmmakers communicated sound to cinema audiences through music and visual clues, what it was like to be in the audience of the ‘silent movies’ and how the British industry  geared up for the talkies. Accompanied by the world’s best silent film musicians the programme will feature special events, presentations by special guests and unique archive film from the BFI and other collections.

See the British Silents site for more details.

And in the meantime, have a look at the pages of some of our women musicians and visit Neil Brand’s site, The Originals.


The First International Berkeley Conference on Silent Cinema

CINEMA ACROSS MEDIA: THE 1920s, February 24–26, 2011


Cinema’s institutional consolidation in the 1920s enlisted practitioners from many other fields and transformed the entire ensemble of established media. Avant-garde cinemas borrowed extensively from a variety of artistic practices, while the “cinematic” became the new standard for both modernist aesthetics and popular culture. Today’s multimedia environment brings cinema of the 1920s into new focus as the site of rich intermedial traffic, especially if the term “media” encompasses not only recording technologies and mass media, such as photography, phonography, radio, and illustrated press, but also the physical materials used for aesthetic expression, such as paint, print, plaster, stone, voice, and bodies.

We welcome proposals from scholars in a variety of disciplines, including music, architecture, literature, art history, theater, dance, and performance studies, and encourage international and comparative perspectives. The temporal boundaries for “the 1920s” include the transition to sound cinema. Workshop proposals from archivists and others interested in present-day media platforms (DVD, Internet, etc.) and their effect on silent film scholarship are welcome. The conference will last two-and-a-half days and include keynote lectures, concurrent panels, workshops, and screenings at the Pacific Film Archive with live musical accompaniment.

Proposals should include a title, an abstract (300 words), a short bio (100 words), and any A/V needs. Proposals must be submitted by October 15, 2010 to Notification will follow by mid-November.


Women Make Film
Saturday 4 December, 2 – 4pm
£8 / £6 concessions

In collaboration with Women’s Film History Network, The Women’s Library presents a series of feminist films.  The films are provided by The Women’s Library, the British Film Institute and the Imperial War Museum. The films include Militant suffrage comedy (c.1910); Ruby Grierson’s: They Also Serve (1940); Jill Craigie’s: To Be A Woman (1951); Leeds Animation Workshop Through The Glass Ceiling (1994) and No Offence (1996). The films will be introduced by a panel of experts including Professor June Purvis and Christine Gledhill.  The showing will be followed by a discussion led by the panel.


Pordenone Silent Film Festival/Le Giornate del Cinema Muto

2-9 October 2010

See Giornate page for full details of the programme which includes The Tonic (continuity by Eileen ‘Hell’ Montagu, and a reconstruction of a Film Society programme. A meeting of the Women’s Film History International group will take place on 6 October, 17:30, venue TBC.


Women and the Silent Screen VI

Bologna, Italy, June 24–26, 2010

Sponsored by the Università di Bologna (Dipartimento di Musica e Spettacolo – Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia), Women and Film History International, Regione Emilia-Romagna, Cineteca di Bologna, and the Biblioteca Italiana delle Donne, the Sixth International Women and the Silent Screen Conference will celebrate the diversity of women’s engagement with silent cinemas across the globe through a series of scholarly panels, keynote addresses, and archival film screenings.

Continuing the dynamic spirit that characterized previous conferences in Utrecht (1999), Santa Cruz (2001), Montréal (2004), Guadalajara (2006), and Stockholm (2008) the conference will provide an open and friendly atmosphere for the exchange of research and insight into women’s involvement in the first four decades of film history.

The conference programme and registration information are now online and can be found here


13th British Silent Film Festival, 15-18 April 2010, Phoenix Cinema, Leicester.

The Natural World in British Silent Cinema

The 13th British Silent Film Festival will focus on the relationship between the natural world and cinema before 1930, including films about: science and nature; exploration and discovery of polar regions, mountains, jungles and oceans; early ethnography; natural phenomena, climate and weather; the British coast, maritime activities and natural history on film. A four-day packed programme will include many rare and re-discovered films, presentations and social events. All films will have live musical accompaniment from world renowned silent cinema musicians.

There will also be slots devoted to sharing new research on women and silent British cinema. Please check back for further details closer to the time. If are you interested in getting involved, please contact us.

More details about the festival programme here


Bird’s Eye View Festival, March 2010

This year’s Sound and Silents strand (6-10 March) includes a great selection of silent titles, all with new accompaniments from (women) musicians: Chicago, The Patsy, Her Sister from Paris, and Lotte Reiniger’s Adventures of Prince Achmed showing at BFI Southbank and the Barbican. See here for more details.


Saturday 7th November 2009, Women and Silent Britain 2: Women Writing Film, BFI Southbank, London.

Women Writing Film

Women and Silent Britain: Women Writing Film will include presentations, workshops and screenings of rarities from the BFI National Archive. This year’s theme is ‘women writing’ and will look at women writing for or about film as screenwriters, columnists, critics, publicists, and authors of source novels and plays. Confirmed speakers include Christine Gledhill on screenwriter Lydia Hayward, Laraine Porter on novelist Elizabeth von Arnheim, Alexis Weedon on novelist turned screenwriter/producer/director Elinor Glyn, Matthew Sweet on columnist Nerina Shute and Jane Bryan on the delights of the 1910s fan magazine.

Sarah Street, Luke McKernan, Clare Watson and Nathalie Morris will be participating in a research surgery that explores some of the pleasures and problems of researching women film pioneers, and Amy Sargeant, Nicola Beauman and Laura Marcus will introduce and read from a selection of writings by prominent critics, actors and novelists of the 1920s.

The day will be rounded off with a screening of The Constant Nymph (1928). One of the biggest British films of that year, The Constant Nymph stars Mabel Poulton, and was based on the novel and play by Margaret Kennedy, and adapted for the screen by Alma Reville. Tickets are £10 (day only)/£15 (day event + evening screening of The Constant Nymph) and can be booked via the BFI box office. Full timetable to be posted shortly.

Thanks to Persephone Books who will be hosting a wine reception between 5-6pm. Persephone specialises in re-printing works by forgotten women writers and a selection of their books will be available to purchase on the day.

Plus BFI Collections on Display: Women and Silent Britain, Mezzanine Level, BFI Southbank, 6 October-22 November (tbc) 2009.


27 and 28 June 2009

Cinema Museum Open Weekend

The Cinema Museum collection represents cinema’s rich history from the earliest days to the present, containing items relating to film production to film exhibition and the experience of cinema going.

The weekend also features an exhibition of new artwork by Cnidoblasts and Anna Odrich, reconfiguring artefacts from the collection and exploring the mechanics and gestures of silent comedy through sculpture.

Also during weekend: Recipes to the Stars! – an edible talk with Jenny Hammerton. See Jenny’s excellent Silver Screen Suppers site to find out how to make tasty (and not so tasty) recipes

Rescuing Home Movies – a guide by David Cleveland

Classic Silent Comedy Shorts – a film screening with piano accompaniment by Tom Bell

Guided tours of the Museum Collection

Chaplin and the Workhouse exhibition and more!

See for updates and more information


7-8 June 2009, Barbican, London, The Sounds of Early Cinema conference. Papers from academics, archivists and curators plus a screening of Maurice Elvey’s The Flag Lieutenant.

The 12th Silent British Cinema 4-6 June 2009, Barbican, London

This year’s festival promises to be a corker! With a musical theme, look forward to superb accompaniment from world renowned musicians Neil Brand, Gunter Buchwald, Phil Carli, Stephen Horne, and John Sweeney as well as special events including Palais de Dance (1928) with the Barbican Palais Orchestra on Friday 5th, Ukelelescope, a new performance by The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain at BFI Southbank on Saturday 6, and a guided walk of early cinema locations with Professor Ian Christie on Sunday 7.

**Visit the 12th Silent British Cinema Festival Diary page to read about the festival and leave comments


21-26 April 2009, Frauen Film Festival, Dortmund, Germany

The International Women’s Film Festival held annually in Dortmund and Cologne (on alternate years) features new films and filmmakers as well as silent films with live accompaniment. Please visit the festival website for more information


March 5-13, 2009, Bird’s Eye View Film Festival, London, England

Includes a retrospective strand focusing on Screen Seductresses: Vamps, Vixen and Femmes Fatales. Silent Screenings include Pandora’s Box.


Sunday 15 February 2009, 2-5pm, screening of The Life Story of David Lloyd George

Conference Centre, British Library, London

Live accompaniment from Neil Brand and introduced by Dan Snow


22-25 January 2009, Slapstick, Silent Comedy Festival, Bristol, England.


Thursday 23 October, Trafalgar Square, London

Outdoor screening of High Treason (1929, Maurice Elvey) with live accompaniment by Neil Brand as part of the Times BFI London Film Festival. Click here for more details.

Listen to Neil Brand, Matthew Sweet and Kevin Brownlow discuss High Treason and silent cinema with Francine Stock on the Film Programme (broadcast 17 October 2008).


4th-11th October, 2008, Pordenone, Italy.

The Pordenone Silent Film Festival/Le Giornate del Cinema Muto


26th – 28th September 2008, BFI Southbank, London.

Best of the British Silent Cinema Festival

A weekend of highlights from the annual British Silent Cinema Festival, now in its 11th year. Screenings programmes of short and non-fiction films: The Olympic Games on Film 1900-1924, When All Films Were Short and True Crime on Film) and features: The Battle of the Somme (1916), The Lure of Crooning Water (1920), The Triumph of the Rat (1927), The Ware Case (1928) (scripted by Lydia Hayward) and The First Born (1928) (co-scripted by Alma Reville).


19th September, Filmpodium, Zurich, Germany

Screening of The First Born (1928), directed by and starring Miles Mander, co-scripted by Alma Reville. Stephen Horne accompanies on piano. Click here for further details.


11th September, Women’s Library, London Metropolitan University

Women Transport Pioneers in the Gaumont Graphic Newsreel (1910-1932)

Illustrated talk by WSBC contributor Jude Cowan Montagu

The Gaumont Graphic, held by ITN Source on behalf of Reuters, is a silent newsreel that played at British cinemas from 1910 to 1932. Using excerpts of footage. This talk looks at some of the pioneers who changed the face of travel and transport. Women featured include actor Dorothy Jordan, aviators Amy Johnson, Mary du Caurroy and Amelia Earhart, and speed boat racers Marin Barbara ‘Betty’ Carstairs and Mrs Victor Bruce.


11 – 13th June 2008

The Fifth Women and the Silent Screen Conference, Stockholm University, Sweden.

The conference will include archival screenings, as well as keynote addresses and scholarly panels related to women and cinema during the first four decades of film history. The historical and theoretical issues include the roles of women as directors, screenwriters, producers, distributors and actors, but also as filmgoers.

The deadline for proposals has now passed (see CFP). The conference website is now up and running and a copy of the programme can be downloaded here.

We will publish a review of the conference on the WSBC site in due course so please check back to these pages.

In conjunction with the conference organisers, the Nederlands Film Museum has put out a request for help identifying forgotten films and actresses. To download a powerpoint presentation of images please follow this link


13th – 30th May 2008

The Second Fashion in Film Festival: If Looks Could Kill, BFI Southbank, London.

The festival includes screenings of The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) on which Alma Reville worked as Assistant Director, and The Rat (1925), based on the 1924 play written by Constance Collier and Ivor Novello. Stephen Horne accompanies The Lodger which is showing on 13th May


12th April 2008

Cross-Media Co-Operation Between the Publishing, Theatrical and Film Industries: An Interdisciplinary Colloquium, Institute of English Studies, University of London.

This one-day event is an initiative of the University of Bedfordshire’s Cross-Media Collaboration in the 1920s and 1930s project. Papers include ‘Elinor Glyn: The Novelist as Hollywood star’ (Dr. Vince Barnett). A full programme is available on the conference webpage.


5th April 2008, 11.00 – 13.00

Panel Session on Women and Silent British Cinema. Part of the 11th Silent British Cinema Festival, ‘Rats, Ruffians and Radicals: The Globalisation of Crime and the Silent British Film’, 3-6 April 2008, Nottingham Broadway.

We can now confirm the panel line-up as follows:

Simon Brown, ‘Blanche McIntosh: The First Lady of Screen Crime’

Amy Sargeant, ‘The Return of Mata Hari and A Woman Redeemed

Lisa Stead, ‘”It Costs Nothing to Wish!” Fan Writing and Self-Representation in the British Silent Cinema”

Tony Fletcher, ‘Laura Eugenia Smith and the Biokam Films’

Booking forms and the full festival programme can now be downloaded from the festival website.


7th-13th March 2008

Clowning Glories: Women in Film Comedy Before 1930 is a week-long film festival that celebrates women’s contribution to the development of film comedy internationally. This Birds Eye View event includes a panel discussion, screenings with live musical accompaniment, and a comedy gala featuring comedienne Jo Brand. The festival will showcase the work of pioneering directors such as Alice Guy, Florence Turner and Dorothy Arzner, and films include The Vagabond Queen (1929) starring British screen heroine Betty Balfour.

Allevents will take place at the NFT during the second week of March.

Listen to curators Kelly Robinson and Ingrid Stigsdotter discuss Clowning Glories on BBC4’s Woman’s Hour (originally broadcast 5 March 2008).


14 – 16th December 2007

Non Solo Dive: Pioniere del cinema italiano (Not Only Divas: Women pioneers of Italian cinema) international conference and retrospective on women and silent cinema, Bologna, Italy.

The event is motivated by the desire to rediscover the part played by women in an area that has for too long been regarded as exclusively male and at the same time to critically investigate the causes that to a certain extent determined this process of “masculinization” of the cinema that began in the early 1920s.

A retrospective of films will run 2-15 December at the Cinema Lumière in Bologna in collaboration with the Cineteca di Bologna and two new major restorations will feature: Elvira Giallanella’s pacifist film Umanità (1919) and Elvira Notari’s ‘A Santanotte (1921), a Neopolitan melodrama.



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