This film uncovers a buried treasure of work by a pioneer of film in the silent era, Nell Shipman. This is a compelling story; an unadulterated tale of adventure about a woman who rewrote the rules of filmmaking. She paved the way for independent voices, particularly female voices, and set the standards for nude scenes as well as the practice for including participation of animals.
Deep in the Idaho wilderness, she wrote, directed and starred in her own film, tended her own zoo to ensure the humane treatment of her animal performers and risked her own life to perform daring stunts. In 1923 she released The Grubstake and shocked audiences with the audacity and artistic integrity of the nude scene.
The documentary focuses on the unorthodox genius and gutsy “sourdough” spirit that fuelled Nell’s creativity and infused her work with unmistakable passion. In the book Silent Women: Pioneers of Cinema, which chronicles the work of numerous other female filmmakers whose contribution to film history has been thus far sorely neglected, director, Karen Day, talks about Nell’s work and the making of the documentary. The book will be launched at the Australian premiere screening and available to purchase.
Presented by Human Rights and Animal Ethics Network, The University of Melbourne
Girl from God’s Country
The unique contribution of Nell Shipman to the era of silent cinema is beautifully recorded in this charming documentary. Nell’s bravery and determination to maintain her independence from the emerging studio system is shown through a plethora of archival material, interviews with family members and experts in the field. This story will change the way you think about how women worked in the film industry and their true place in the history of film. According to this documentary, this is a history that warrants some serious reconsideration.