You may think you know your film history, cinephiles. But even this Cinema Studies graduate didn’t know some of the facts and names being revealed on Turner Classic Movies’monthlong “Trailblazing Women” series that premieres October 1 at 8 pm and unspools over nine episodes airing Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Hosted by Illeana Douglas, “Trailblazing Women” celebrates women’s contributions to the film industry, spotlighting cinema’s top women filmmakers as well as those who challenged gender stereotypes while carving out successful careers in an industry where men have long held sway. But in the silent era, before the stakes had grown too large, women held a lot of power.
Check out such classics as”The Family Secret” (1924) with child star Baby Peggy, otherwise known as Diana Serra Cary, who is now 96 years old. TCM programming head Charlie Tabesh and his team partnered with Women in Film/Los Angeles to raise the awareness of the history of women working behind the camera, profiling 47 women directors. They have curated and recontextualized a history that has in many ways been lost.” Trailblazing Women: Behind the Camera, Ahead of Their Time” showcases a variety of filmmakers from the early days of cinema through the contemporary era, screening more than 50 films.
Joining Douglas as co-hosts will be director Allison Anders, talking about “Independent Classics” such as Claudia Weill’s “Girlfriends” (1978) and Martha Coolidge’s “Valley Girl” (1983) and Julie Dash on “African-American Independents,” including her beautiful post-Civil War drama “Daughters of The Dust” (1991), the first feature film directed by an African American woman to receive wide theatrical distribution in the U.S, which while it debuted and won an award at the Sundance Film Festival and was picked up by the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress, is rarely seen.
Connie Field discusses “Essential Documentaries,” including her own, “The Life And Times Of Rosie The Riveter” (1980). Amy Heckerling co-hosts two nights: “The 1980s: A Step Forward,” which includes her own film, “Look Who’s Talking” (1989) and “The 1990s: Mainstream Hits,” featuring Penny Marshall’s “A League of Their Own” (1992) and Barbra Streisand’s “The Prince of Tides” (1991). Producer and President of Women in Film Los Angeles Cathy Schulman will look at “A New Generation,” including Sarah Polley’s “Away From Her” (2006), Sofia Coppola’s “Virgin Suicides” (1999) and Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” (2008). Historian Cari Beauchamp will co-host three nights highlighting “Early Pioneers,” including showing Alice Guy-Blaché shorts, “The Studio Era” through the 1970s including Dorothy Arzner’s “Dance, Girl Dance” (1940) and “International Breakthroughs” such as Agnès Varda’s “Cleo From 5 To 7” (1962) and Lina Wertmüller’s “Love and Anarchy” (1973).
Complete schedule here.