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Light and Sound Machine: Lois Weber: First Woman of Cinema

Thu, Dec 15, 2016 7:00 pm

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  • Min. Price: $8.00, Max Price: $10.00

Thu, Dec 15 at 7:00pm (Doors at 6:00pm) at Third Man Records, 623 7th Ave South | Click here for DIRECTIONS

Tickets: $10 / $8 Belcourt members | Click here to BUY TICKETS

Light and Sound Machine is a monthly screening series of marginalized cinema, both new and repertory, co-presented by the Belcourt Theatre and Third Man Records in Third Man Record’s Blue Room.

Not just one of the most important female figures of American cinema, Lois Weber's contribution to the artistry and industry of filmmaking was, quite simply, among the most important. Between 1911 and 1934, Weber directed 135 films, wrote 114, and acted in 100. Yes, she was the first American woman to direct a feature film and the first woman to own her own film studio. However, her accomplishments are more than symbolic. She was also a pioneering technician and was the first to employ split screen technique. In addition, she made some of the earliest experiments with sound as early as 1913-14, years ahead of THE JAZZ SINGER. Furthermore, Weber brought a prescient vision of social justice to the screen at an incredibly early period. Her films addressed subjects ranging from economic inequality, anti-Semitism, and even abortion and birth control in her 1916 film WHERE ARE MY CHILDREN?

Given the magnitude of her legacy, it's a profound loss for all of cinema that only 20 of her films have been preserved. The Light and Sound Machine presents two of Weber's lost masterpieces—carefully restored by Milestone films, Netherland's EYE Filmmuseum, and the Library of Congress—on the 100th anniversary of their creation.


Weber’s masterpiece and one of the first great landmarks of women’s filmmaking. Mary MacLaren stars as Eva Meyer, a shop girl working at a five-and-dime who is the sole wage earner for three younger sisters, a mother who struggles to hold everything together, and a father who prefers beer and penny dreadfuls to work. Each week, Eva returns to her cold-water flat and dutifully hands over her meager earnings to her mother. But her wages barely cover the grocer’s bill and cannot provide for decent clothing. With only cardboard to patch the holes in the soles of her shoes, Eva’s life becomes harder with each rainy day and every splinter. In constant pain and with no solution in sight, the disheartened girl considers the uninvited advances of Charlie, a cad with dishonorable intentions.


In the early 20th century, no woman had greater worldwide fame than ballet legend Anna Pavlova. While the international distribution of films spread the reputation of movie stars, Pavlova’s renown had to be earned theater by theater, performance by performance. No one traveled farther around the globe or worked harder than this slight daughter of a Russian laundress. A generation marveled and cherished the memory of her scintillating brilliance on stage. But her legendary art was, by its nature, ephemeral.

The restoration of THE DUMB GIRL OF PORTICI—with a dazzling new score by dance and silent film composer John Sweeney—will give today’s audiences a chance to experience the energy, the expressive face, and the grace of the great Pavlova. This previously unseen film is long overdue for recognition as one of Weber’s finest.

2102 Belcourt Ave
Nashville, TN 37212

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