Kino Lorber to Restore Motherhood: Life's Greatest Miracle
New York, NY - November 16, 2016 - Kino Lorber is proud to announce that it will release the rediscovered 1925 film MOTHERHOOD: LIFE'S GREATEST MIRACLE, directed by Lita Lawrence. Details of the film's production are still being researched, but there is every indication that this is the earliest surviving feature film directed by an African-American woman. The film is now being photochemically preserved by the Library of Congress, and will be digitally restored in 2K by Kino Lorber as part of its new archival project PIONEERS: FIRST WOMEN FILMMAKERS.
The historical significance of the film is not limited to the racial heritage of the filmmaker. MOTHERHOOD is a rare example of a silent film addressing topics of birth control and abortion (topics that were thoroughly taboo in the 1920s cinema). The film illuminates the degree to which women filmmakers of the silent era - usually working independent of the studios - were determined to broach controversial socio-political issues.
"This is an incredibly exciting find," says PIONEERS curator Shelley Stamp, "It confirms that African-American women have been making films for a lot longer than Hollywood likes to think. And it's fascinating to see a film made by a woman for women during the height of national debates about eugenics and the fight to legalize contraception. Many other similar films of this era are presumed lost, including Margaret Sanger's Birth Control and Lois Weber's The Hand That Rocks the Cradle - so it's all the more important to preserve MOTHERHOOD."
The 35mm nitrate print (with the original color tinting) was acquired in 2015 by the Library of Congress, from the estate of film collector Alois Detlaff (1921-2005). "We're especially pleased to present MOTHERHOOD, a 1925 film directed Lita Lawrence, whom we believe was the first African-American woman to direct a feature film in this country," says Mike Mashon, Head of the Moving Image Section of the Library of Congress, "We're proud to partner with Kino Lorber on another Pioneers release. The overwhelmingly positive response to Pioneers of African-American Cinema was gratifying, and undoubtedly FIRST WOMEN FILMMAKERS will prove a wonderful resource to film lovers and scholars alike."
A new score for MOTHERHOOD will be composed by Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, who created the celebrated scores for Body and Soul and Within Our Gates for the predecessor of this series. "Following the wildly successful Pioneers of African-American Cinema, I am honored to now provide a music score for one of the first films directed by an African-American woman," Miller says, "Archives are places of exploration and discovery. Let's give the past a future!"
PIONEERS: FIRST WOMEN FILMMAKERS is planned as a five-Blu-ray box set that will showcasenew restorations of films made by women during the silent era in the United States. The series is executive-produced by Illeana Douglas, curated by Shelley Stamp, and produced by Bret Wood. The project is funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign (which ends on Friday, November 18, having already surpassed its fund-raising goal).
"Producing archival collections of this magnitude are an extraordinary challenge," says Kino Lorber CEO Richard Lorber, "but through the relationships we've forged with the Library of Congress and other international archives, and with the generous support of a public which is hungry for rare and historically important films, we are achieving what would otherwise have been impossible."
PIONEERS: FIRST WOMEN FILMMAKERS is targeted for a fourth-quarter 2017 release. Advance theatrical screenings of MOTHERHOOD: LIFE'S GREATEST MIRACLE will be announced in early 2017.