Booking Opportunity: Lois Weber's two Masterpieces on DCP!
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Milestone is proud to announce the restoration and release of two masterpieces by silent film director Lois Weber
on the occasion of their 100th anniversary!

Extraordinary early feminist films feature 
beautiful silent star Mary MacLaren
and prima ballerina Anna Pavlova!
 The Dumb Girl of Portici
 “Lois Weber was the most successful of all the women directors in the first quarter of the 20th century and, at the time, was placed alongside the likes of D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille as the major innovative forces in filmmaking.”
— Cari Beauchamp, IndieWire

Dear friends,

Milestone is thrilled to be presenting on DCP and other digital formats brand new restorations of two silent film masterpieces — perfect for special events at your theater. Shoes and The Dumb Girl of Portici will be premiering around the country starting November 13, as we anticipate great national press for these important films.

Lois Weber, at the height of her career, wrote and directed ten feature films in the year 1916 — including the astonishing 
Shoes and The Dumb Girl of Portici. To celebrate their centennial, Milestone is working with the Netherland's EYE Filmmuseum (Shoes) and the Library of Congress (The Dumb Girl of Portici) to bring out these gorgeous restorations, featuring brilliant scores by acclaimed composers Donald Sosin and Jonathan Sweeney.

Trailers, stills, press kits, and posters will soon be available. Please call us at 1(800) 602-1104 in the US and Canada or +1(201) 767-3117 or email us at to schedule your screenings of these unforgettable gems!

Best wishes,

Dennis Doros and Amy Heller

The Dumb Girl of Portici
Shoes is 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.

Weber weaves a beautifully simple story with a technique celebrated in post-WWII Italy as neorealism. Filming exteriors around Los Angeles — including a remarkable scene in Pershing Square and the actual front of Woolworths on Broadway — Weber created a timeless feminist masterpiece. The director’s brand-new discovery, sixteen-year-old Mary MacLaren (who resembles a young Jennifer Lawrence) is the embodiment of youthful innocence and too-early world weariness. Shoes is a plea for women’s equality (women’s suffrage was still a hard-fought political goal), and vividly portrays the reality and tragedy of a shop girl in modern society.

The restoration of Shoes by the Eye Filmmuseum  in Amsterdam combined a Dutch nitrate print and a 1930s American “comedic” reissue of the film found at the Library of Congress. Thanks to the recent discovery of the film’s original script and intertitles in the files at NBC/Universal, the Milestone edition more closely reflects the original film. Prominent composer Donald Sosin has created a thrilling new chamber score to accompany Shoes.
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.

The production of The Dumb Girl of Portici was one of Universal’s most expensive to date and featured an enormous cast, large-scale sets, and an ambitious story. The film’s epic tale recounts how the seduction and betrayal of a poor mute girl (Pavlova) gave rise to revolution. It was the first blockbuster ever directed by a woman — and arguably the only epic shot by a woman in the 20th century!

Sadly, over the years The Dumb Girl of Portici fell out of distribution and in its incomplete form, out of favor. Library of Congress archivists George Willeman and Valerie Cervantes combined three different sources to restore the film. Further clean up and stabilization was done by An Affair With Film’s Lori Raskin as well as added the original tinting. Information on those original tints was discovered this summer in the microfilm files of NBC/Universal. The Dumb Girl of Portici and prima ballerina Anna Pavlova will delight modern audiences.
Copyright © 2016 Milestone Film & Video, All rights reserved.

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