Visions and Voices highlights women in film

By Eva Mo

Film is indispensable in this visual media society, no matter in this generation or in the past. However, in the ever-augmenting filmmaker’s world, women haven’t been seen during the age of silent film, and not many people are aware of women filmmakers.

The CASCADIA International Women’s Film Festival is a local platform for women filmmakers to show their works to the public. They are currently holding Visions & Voices: Forgotten Films from Cinema’s Women Directors in Bellingham through March.

The organization has also been holding the Women’s Film Festival since 2015. This year it will be held on April 11-14, at the Pickford Film Center and the Mt. Baker Theatre.

Dr. Susan Lonac is an advisory member of CASCADIA and English and Film professor at Whatcom Community College. As a professor, she specializes in American women filmmakers, American LGBTQ+ filmmakers, and film adaptation. Lonac is helping to organize the Visions and Voices event this year.

“Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers” is a collection of historical films, produced by the Kino Lorber distribution company and the Library of Congress, released last November. The films are directed by seven different early women filmmakers: Alice Guy-Blaché, Lois Weber, Helen Holmes, Mabel Normand, Grace Cunard and Dorothy Davenport Reid.

“The inspiration of this event was the release of a six-disc set of early women filmmakers’ movies,” Lonac said. “On that set are some films that have not been seen by the public since they were first released, during the age of silent film.”

According to the CASCADIA website, the four-part series includes a variety of features and short films ranging from slapstick comedies to melodramas and thrillers from female directors.

The first two events have already been shown Dec. 2, and Jan. 6. For these events, they showed influential director Lois Weber’s “The Blot” (1921), and “Salome” (1923), starring Alla Nazimova, a pioneering lesbian actress.

Lonac mentioned many of the films were over 100 years old, but that not many people are aware of those films or other work from early women filmmakers. Also, it is too often that women in history are erased, she said.

“The purpose of the event is to help people discover the work of early women directors in America,” Lonac said.

The remaining shows will be held Sunday, Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. at Mt. Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St., and Friday, March 8 at 7 p.m. at Firehouse Café, 1315 Harris Ave.

Tickets are available through More information about the festival is available at

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