Jane Gaines, professor of literature and director of the program in film and video, has been named an Academy Film Scholar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Gaines has been awarded a research grant to study and write about the women who made movies during the silent film era, between 1895 and 1920.
Gaines and a University of Southern California historian are only the second pair of film scholars to be selected by the Academy. The program was created in 1999 "to stimulate and support the creation of new, innovative, and significant works of film scholarship about aesthetic, cultural, educational, historical, theoretical, or scientific aspects of theatrical motion pictures."
As a part of an ongoing effort to recognize the contributions of early women filmmakers, Gaines chairs the Duke-based Women Film Pioneers Project, and served last year as a consultant to the Turner Classic Movies cable channel's "A Salute to Women Film Pioneers." Co-hosting the series, she introduced and provided commentary on more than thirty films that aired during the month-long series.
"For years, we thought there were maybe three or four women in the early film industry," she says. "We recently learned that in fact there were hundreds all over the world who were directors, producers, exhibitors, editors, camerawomen--not just actresses and screenwriters. We now know that there were more women working in those early years than in any other period since."
Gaines' AMPAS-supported project, to be titled "Women Film Pioneers: Their Fictions, Their Histories," will take her to film archives in the United States and in Europe and will involve collaboration with film scholars from around the world.