Tag Archives: short films

Make More Noise!

Make More Noise
Make More Noise! Suffragettes in Silent Film

Format: Cinema

Distributor: BFI

Release date:
23 October 2015
For selected venues visit the BFI website

DVD release date:
23 November 2015

Curated by: Bryony Dixon, Margaret Deriaz

UK 1899-1917

80 mins

When the theme for the 59th BFI London Film Festival is ‘the year of strong women’, it seems unsurprising that festival director Clare Stewart would have chosen Suffragette as the opening night gala. And as a compliment to director Sarah Gavron’s film, BFI curators Bryony Dixon and Margaret Deriaz have mined the archives for footage relating to the women’s rights movement. The result is Make More Noise!, words taken from a legendary 1913 speech by British political activist Emmeline Pankhurst, calling for women to be louder, more visible, and impossible to ignore.

The 21 short films selected for this compilation from the BFI National Archive provide a glimpse not only of news footage of the suffragettes, but also at the way women were depicted in turn-of-the-century and Edwardian comedies, sometimes embraced and sometimes mocked. The documentary footage is fascinating, revealing the sheer numbers of people who flooded the streets to protest alongside the suffragettes, including working-class men, who also lacked the right to vote. There is disturbing footage of the infamous death of Emily Davison, who threw herself in front of the King’s horse on Derby Day (the importance of which went unnoticed by the filmmakers, who kept on rolling), as well as images of the huge crowds at her funeral procession. The war brought new work opportunities for women, and we see them staffing munition factories as well as a field hospital in France, where they served as orderlies, nurses, and surgeons.

But as well as the wealth of news reels, the curators have also taken a playful approach to the era, unveiling a host of comedic portrayals of females – still often played by men. In the mischievous ‘Did’ums Diddles the P’liceman’, a young boy dressed as a suffragette mercilessly taunts a policeman into a wild chase. In another, ‘Women’s Rights’, two women (men again) are depicted as foolish gossips. In a 1913 comedy, a husband, outrageously forced to look after his own children by his suffragette wife, dreams of extracting his revenge. But the highlights are the pre-war short films featuring the Tilly girls (Alma Taylor and Chrissie White), two high-spirited young women determined to be gleefully and gloriously independent.

Soundtracked and performed by composer and pianist Lillian Henley, who was commissioned by the BFI to create an energetic period score, Make More Noise! is a fascinating, moving and entertaining tribute to the suffragettes. While it seems like a shame that more wasn’t made creatively of the rather dry intertitles, used to introduce the shorts, it’s a small niggle that can be overlooked.

This review is part of our LFF 2015 coverage.

Sarah Cronin

Who Is Walerian Borowczyk?

As part of our exploration of ground-breaking Polish director Walerian Borowczyk, we look at his career as a board game in our comic strip review.

As part of Kinoteka, ‘Walerian Borowczyk: The Listening Eye’, an exhibition of preliminary studies for his animated shorts Les Jeux des Anges (1964), Le dictionnaire de Joachim (1965) and The Theatre of Mr and Mrs Kabal (1967) as well as his unique wooden sound sculptures is on at the ICA’s Fox Reading Room from 20 May – 6 July 2014.

Two programmes of Borowczyk’s short films will screen at the ICA on 24 and 25 May 2014.

The Walerian Borowczyk retrospective runs at BFI Southbank until the end of May 2014.

Camera Obscura: The Walerian Borowczyk Collection is released by Arrow Academy on 8 September 2014. This unique limited edition box set (Dual Format DVD + Blu-ray) includes the short films, The Theatre of Mr and Mrs Kabal, Goto, l’île d’amour, Blanche, The Beast and Immoral Tales – it does not contain The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Miss Osbourne.

Comic Strip Review by Tony Hitchman