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SILENT MOVIES & MUSIC | Women's suffrage and the early age of filmmaking

  • Austrian Cultural Forum Washington 3524 International Court Northwest Washington, DC, 20008 United States (map)

On November 12, 1918 the Austrian Provisional National Assembly passed a law that included the right to vote for women - even though it was only exercised for the first time at the parliamentary election on February 19, 1919. As part of our year-long commemoration program we will honor and address this landmark decision from 100 years ago in an entertaining and artistic way, namely with a selection of silent movies about the women’s suffrage movement in the 1910s.

The Austrian silent movie pianist Gerhard Gruber will present these movies, accompanying them with the piano himself.

Women's suffrage and the early age of filmmaking

At the beginning of the 20th century the fight of women for equality and the right to vote also conquered the cinema. The women’s suffrage movement took place in the streets: Women, many of them members of the bourgeoisie, organized themselves and demanded to be part of the democratic election process! By 1913 more than 1000 suffragettes were imprisoned because of their political fight. Besides caricatures in newspapers also newsreels documented the marches and protests of the women’s movement. At this time also countless comedies were produced, which looked at the emancipation movements of suffragettes.

To celebrate women’s effort for equal rights and to commemorate 100 years of women’s suffrage in Austria the silent movie pianist Gerhard Gruber takes you on a time journey back to the area of silent movies.

Gerhard Gruber has been a pianist for silent movies since 1988. His approach to silent movie accompaniment is improvisation, whereby every time a direct and new, maybe unexpected dialog with the screened happening emerges.

Photo | (c) Mariann Lewinsky