Happy Birthday, Lois Weber – America’s 1st Female Filmmaker

Born on this day in 1879, Lois Weber was a child prodigy pianist and silent film pioneer – an actress, screenwriter, producer, and director (the 1st woman as such in the United States) of over 100 known films. As a progressive activist, Weber’s movies often contained her ideals of social justice, which included support for women’s rights and birth control, as well as opposition towards censorship and the death penalty.

Her films are also known for being technically and narratively advanced for the time, groundbreaking in their usage and advancement of existing film language. One such example is the pre-Hitchcockian Suspense, directed in 1913 by Weber, below with a piano score by the lovely and talented Robbie Kaye from Beauty and Wisdom.

That Weber has been largely forgotten with the passage of time is as much a tragedy as the final years in her own life. I hope this changes and she begins to receive a more recognized and deserving place in history.

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March Melies Madness! – The Dreyfus Affair [L’Affaire Dreyfus] (1899)

The Dreyfus Affair (aka L’Affaire Dreyfus) is a multi-film narrative by Georges Méliès regarding the controversial political scandal surrounding Captain Alfred Dreyfus, convicted of Treason in 1894 France. After Emile Zola published his infamous letter, J’Accuse, which accused the government of anti-Semitism and unlawful jailing, Dreyfus was eventually re-tried. In 1906, he was exonerated and reinstated as a major in the French Army. This film, produced in the midst of the scandal, would become the 1st censored movie as it was banned in France.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0000218/