By Aaliyah Humphrey
SFC’s 3rd Annual Women’s Film Festival was a hit last week.
On the first day, prior to the film screenings Dr. Palmer quoted Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “People ask me sometimes, when – when do you think it will be enough? When will there be enough women on the court? And my answer is when there are nine”.
Palmer then explained the significance of having all-female film festivals and how it’s time for women to be proactive: “Why we need it?… because we had a lot of time for male festivals.”
The first day of the film festival featured silent films from Lois Weber with live piano accompaniment by Ben Model. Weber, once known as Hollywood’s most important director, was one of the few women to highlight films on the social issues in the early 20th century.
Topics like birth control, prostitution and abortion not only gave her a controversial appeal, but a place for social justice.
In this case, her two films, Suspense and Shoes portrayed fear, desperation and despair in two different stories.
Suspense was the first film played. Directed by Weber and her husband at the time, Phillips Smalley, this short thriller tells a story of when a tramp tries to break into a married woman’s house.
Aside from co-directing the film, Weber also stars as the innocent wife at home with her baby waiting for the madness to end.
In only 11 minutes, the film makes a great impact by creating one of the first split-screen shots on film.
The husband, wife, and “mistress” are seen in three different screen settings; giving the audience real action and anticipation in the moment.
Compared to Suspense in 1913, Shoes gives the audience a more personal view of one character.
In Shoes, a young woman goes through a long journey of wearing uncomfortable shoes and unsuccessfully tries to convince her mother to buy new ones.
The young woman’s defeated attitude and desperation is displayed in different shots of her at home and at her job. In one tracking shot, the audience can see a close-up on her shoes getting soaked in pouring rain.
The film contained unique camera work that captivated the audience and reminded viewers of the woman’s desperation – making Weber a leading filmmaker in early Hollywood production.