Artist Q&A will follow the performance.

Here’s your chance to see “trailblazing examples of female energy, anger, transgression, rebellions and explosive hilarity in early cinema” (Silent London). Shining a spotlight on female rebellion, cross-dressing, gender burlesque, and slapstick comedy, these films are drawn from a new collection curated by Laura Horak, Elif Rongen-Kaynakci, and UMN’s Maggie Hennefeld. This screening, “oozing with every which sort of feminist imagery” (Maggie Hennefeld), is set to live, original music by Dreamland Faces (Karen Majewicz and Andy McCormick) with dynamic colorings from Northrop’s own historic pipe organ (Molly Raben).

Maggie Hennefeld will provide an introduction at the top of the program and—following the event—will moderate a panel discussion with Lynne Kirby (documentary television producer), Andy McCormick (artist, Dreamland Faces), and Julie Schumacher (Regents Professor, Department of English and Creative Writing Program, University of Minnesota).

“trailblazing examples of female energy, anger, transgression, rebellions and explosive hilarity in early cinema …  rarely-seen silent films about feminist protest, slapstick rebellion, and suggestive gender play.”—Silent London

“Falling in love with Dreamland Faces might appear, at first, like falling in love with Buster Keaton … Or silent film itself.” —Star Tribune

“For nearly two decades, Karen Majewicz and Andy McCormick have composed and performed dozens of scores for silent films filled with accordion, organ and the warbling of a musical saw. The duo sets the mood, builds the mystery and cues the mayhem.” —Star Tribune


Learn More - Explore These Themes

The content below derives from the Northrop Across Campus Program that supports Northrop's mission towards intersections between performing arts and education for the benefit of all participants now and for generations to come.

Find ways to make thematic connections to these suggested topics:

  • Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies
  • Cinema & Media Culture
  • Organ Studies
  • Music Theory
  • Composition
  • Audio Design

Start a conversation about the performance, or encourage reflection, using these questions as inspiration.

Dreamland Faces duo Karen Majewicz and Andy McCormick will be performing their composed music to accompany Cinema’s First Nasty Women, part of a new four-disc DVD/Blu-ray set featuring rarely-seen feminist silent films that spotlight female rebellion, cross-dressing, gender burlesque, and slapstick comedy.

  • How might musicians use their accompaniment to highlight feminism in films?
  • Films often cater to the male gaze, a term coined by British film critic, Laura Mulvey, who argues women are viewed as objects for men’s sexual pleasure. Can you identify any films that cater to the female gaze? How would you define female gaze?
  • Considering the ability for more people to create independent films—given technology like iPhones—how do you imagine film will change in the next 20 to 50 years?

The female characters featured in Cinema’s First Nasty Women are indeed nasty. They organize labor strikes, bake (and weaponize) inedible desserts, explode out of the chimney, and electrocute the police force. These women assume a range of identities that gleefully dismantle traditional gender norms and sexual constraints. 

  • Historically, some marginalized/oppressed groups of people have transformed a word or label meant to be insulting or derogatory, and taken ownership of it. Do you think this form of reappropriation is a form of activism?
  • Some of the films take a comedic approach to their messages. Do you believe humor is an effective approach to activism on film? Does it take away from the seriousness of the subject?

Dreamland Faces had a studio at the Ivy Building in Minneapolis for 14 years, 2 blocks from the 3rd precinct. After George Floyd was murdered by police, a bar next door was set on fire. Flames drifted over, and the Dreamland Faces studio caved in completely. Everything inside was destroyed, including the duo’s instruments, music books, recording equipment, albums, and projects.

  • How do you imagine the events of 2020 as well as the ensuing civil unrest would affect an artist's work?
  • In what ways can art be passed on if it is no longer physically present?


Minnesota State Arts Board logo

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.