Anna Pavlova stars in the 1916 silent movie epic directed by Lois Weber

‘The Dumb Girl of Portici’ – Lois Weber’s silent blockbuster on Criterion Channel

The first blockbuster helmed by a woman director in Hollywood, The Dumb Girl of Portici (1916), based on the opera by Daniel Auber, presents the legendary ballerina Anna Pavlova in her only feature film performance. It was not uncommon to cast luminaries of stage, opera, and other performing arts in movies as they evolved from […]

‘Araya’ – a landmark of poetic nonfiction on Criterion Channel

Araya (Venezuela, 1959), Margot Benacerraf’s 1959 documentary of the hardscrabble lives on the peninsula of Araya, is non-fiction filmmaking as poetic realist portrait. Araya is a barren desert surround by ocean and salt marshes on the northern reaches of Caribbean Venezuela and was originally settled by the Spanish in 1500. The “daily ritual of salt” […]

Shirley Clarke directs this pioneering American independent film

Shirley Clarke’s landmark ‘The Connection’ on Criterion Channel

The Connection (1962), the debut feature from Shirley Clarke, turns a stage play originally produced by New York’s revolutionary Living Theater as a play within a play into an innovative work of cinema. Clarke was a pioneering American independent filmmaker before that label was even invented and her work was unpreserved and largely unavailable until […]

Anna Pavlova stars in the 1916 silent movie epic directed by Lois Weber

Silents Please: Lois Weber restored and ‘The Covered Wagon’ on Blu-ray

Shoes (Milestone, Blu-ray, DVD) The Dumb Girl of Portici (Milestone, Blu-ray, DVD) The Covered Wagon (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD) Lois Weber holds a place in film history as the first major woman film director in Hollywood. What’s often forgotten in that honor is the talent that gave her a successful 25 year making films for […]

Seret Scott and Bill Gunn in the landmark feature film debut by Kathleen Collins

‘Losing Ground’ – The landmark American indie on Milestone Blu-ray/DVD

If you’ve never heard of American playwright and filmmaker Kathleen Collins, don’t feel bad. At least not for yourself. Collins succumbed to cancer in 1988 at the age of 46 after completing just one feature. The independently-made Losing Ground (1982) was produced before the American Indie film culture established itself with the successes of Spike […]

Tommy Reynolds and Homer Nish in Kent Mackenzie's THE EXILES (1961). Charles Burnett and Sherman Alexie present a Milestone Films release. The film was restored from the original 35mm materials by Ross Lipman and the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

‘The Exiles’ on Fandor and DVD

The Exiles (1961), Kent Mackenzie’s independently produced drama, chronicles the lives of urban American Indians (all of them non-actors drawing from their own lives) on the Bunker Hill area of Los Angeles over one long, alcohol-lubricated night. Homer dropped out of school, left the reservation, joined the Navy, and now drinks his nights away with […]