PIONEERS: FIRST WOMEN FILMMAKERS
November 06 only
What if women were recognized for their contributions to motion pictures from the beginning of cinema? In the Wild West days of early filmmaking—before Hollywood hardened into an assembly-line behemoth and boys’ club—talented women worked regularly as writers, producers, and directors, instrumental in shaping the very language of cinema as we know it. Nevertheless, figures like Alice Guy Blaché and Lois Weber are known today primarily by aficionados, and artists like Nell Shipman, Grace Cunard, and Marion E. Wong remain woefully obscure. Bringing together dozens of essential new restorations, this series spotlights the daring, innovative, and trailblazing work of the first female filmmakers and restores their centrality to the creation of cinema itself.
THE CURSE OF QUON GWON: THE FAR EAST MEETS THE WEST
“As an American-born-Chinese, Wong’s long residence in Oakland and her Chinese heritage enables her to weave both Chinese folklore and her transnational life experiences into the script [THE CURSE OF QUON GWON: THE EAST MEETS THE WEST]. The title mixed Chinese and Western dressing styles in the film indicate Wong’s awareness of the cultural conflicts and the mixture of East and West that would give rise to the formation of a transnational identity. From the surviving materials available for viewing, one can see that THE CURSE OF QUON GWON is a melodrama filled with love, passion, jealousy, and family conflicts.
The existence of THE CURSE OF QUON GWON suggests that although some early independent filmmakers may have found the financial means to produce a film, they were yet unable to publicize or to promote their productions. Scholars continue to look for clues to the history of the film in the surviving material—the thirty minutes of the original 35mm camera negative, labeled as reel 4 and reel 7. Both the 35mm footage and a forty-two-minute 16mm version made at Violet’s initiative in 1969 after Marion’s death contain black leader spliced between scenes. The Kodak edge numbers on the film stock confirm that the 35mm negative was shot in 1917. Most importantly,THE CURSE OF QUON GWON brings the name Marion E. Wong, motion picture producer-director and president of the Mandarin Film Company in Oakland, California, out of obscurity”. -Jenny Kwok Wah Lau, Women Film Pioneers Project.
Co-presented with CAAM.