Cinema's First Nasty Women

When and Where

Thursday, April 14, 2022 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Innis Town Hall
Innis College
2 Sussex Avenue, Toronto, ON M5S 1J5


Maggie Hennefeld
Laura Horak


Buckle up for an evening of contagious laughter, collective labor strikes, hysterical somnambulism, cross-dressing banditry, and unrepressed female anger. We warned you! This event is a sneak preview of Cinema's First Nasty Women: an archival project spotlighting rarely-seen silent films about feminist protest, slapstick mayhem, and suggestive gender play. 

The program of 9 films is curated by Maggie Hennefeld and Laura Horak, who will introduce the screening and will lead a Q&A afterward. They are co-curators (with Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi) of Cinema's First Nasty Women, a 4-disc DVD/Blu-ray set that will be released by Kino Lorber in June 2022. The screening will be accompanied with live music by Marilyn Lerner. 

La grève des nourrices (The Nursemaids’ Strike) (France 1907), 12 min.
Rosalie a la maladie du sommeil (Rosalie Has Sleeping Sickness) (France 1911), 4.5 min.
Laughing Gas (US 1907), 6.5 min.
Léontine s'envole (Léontine Gets Carried Away) (France 1911), 6 min.
Zoé et la parapluie miraculeux (Zoé and the Miraculous Umbrella) (France 1913), 4 min.
La fureur de Mme Plumette (Madame Plumette’s Fury) (France 1912), 5.5 min.
Amour et science (Love and Science) (FR 1912), 14 min.
The Red Girl and the Child (US 1910), 12 min.
The Night Rider (US, 1920), 25 min.

TOTAL: 89.5 min

* All in person attendees must use UCheck self-verification, wear a mask, and be fully vaccinated (or have a university approved exemption).

Live Streaming Link

Maggie Hennefeld is McKnight Presidential Fellow and Associate Professor of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is the author of the award-winning book, Specters of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes (Columbia UP, 2018), an editor of the journal Cultural Critique, and co-editor of two volumes, Unwatchable (Rutgers UP, 2019) and Abjection Incorporated: Mediating the Politics of Pleasure and Violence (Duke UP, 2020). She is currently writing a book about the history of women who allegedly died from laughing too hard, considered alongside theories of female hysteria and historiographies of early cinema. In addition to her academic writing, she is a cultural critic and international curator of silent cinema.

Laura Horak is an Associate Professor of Film Studies at Carleton University and director of the Transgender Media Lab and Transgender Media Portal. She investigates the history of transgender and queer film and media in the United States, Canada, and Sweden. She is author of Girls Will Be Boys: Cross-Dressing Women, Lesbians, and American Cinema, 1908-1934 (Rutgers UP, 2016) and co-editor of Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space (Indiana UP, 2014), Unwatchable (Rutgers UP, 2019), and a special issue of Somatechnics on trans/cinematic/bodies. Horak is a white cis queer settler scholar who is here to leverage her privilege and institutional resources for the revolution.

The work of Toronto based pianist/composer Marilyn Lerner spans the worlds of Jazz, Creative improvisation and Klezmer. She has composed for film, theatre, radio and television. Lerner has appeared with Tito Puente, Gerry Hemingway, and Steve Lacy. She currently performs with her two trios, the Ugly Beauties (Matt Brubeck-cello, Nick Fraser- drums) and in the New York based ensemble with drummer Lou Grassi and bassist Ken Filiano. Marilyn is active in Jewish music scene, teaching and conducting master classes at KlezKanada, Weimar and Yiddish New York as well as composing and arranging and directing for the annual Dreaming In Yiddish concert in memory of the great Yiddish singer Adrienne Cooper. She also performs with Frank London, Alicia Svigals, Susan Watts, Yoshi Fruchter, and other luminaries of the revival klezmer scene.In addition to her music work Lerner trained as a psychotherapist and then psychoanalyst and has been in private practise in Toronto, Ontario since 2007.


Cinema Studies Institute, Centre for the Study of the United States


2 Sussex Avenue, Toronto, ON M5S 1J5