Alumna Kate Saccone '13 Co-Hosts Paddle-In Screening with the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club

Angeline Dimambro
September 28, 2020

Film and Media Studies alumna Kate Saccone '13 programmed and co-hosted an outdoor, paddle-in screening of Filibus: The Mysterious Air Pirate (1915) for The Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club earlier this month. Saccone is the Project Manager for the Women Film Pioneers Project (WFPP) at Columbia. Her pieces on film have been featured in publications such as Modernism/modernityCinephile, and Bright Wall/Dark Room.

As a graduate student, Saccone worked as a research assistant for Professor Jaine Gaines’ Women Film Pioneers Project, which is a digital publication and resource that advances research on the hundreds of women who worked behind the scenes during the silent film era. Now Project Manager, Saccone’s work includes film research, managing the site’s image database, as well as outreach to connect the public with these forgotten films. 

While WFPP usually programs screenings, it has been understandably difficult to do so during the pandemic. Co-hosting this event with the Gowanus Dredgers Club gave Saccone the chance to bring Filibus to an audience in a whole new setting. Filibus features women prominently in front of the camera and stars a clever female thief who manages to outwit everyone. As described in the event listing, “Filibus is the most exciting, witty, feminist, steampunk, cross-dressing aviatrix thriller you will ever see!”

The film’s hero was just as unique as the screening itself, as viewers watched the film not just from the shore, but also from the Gowanus Canal waters in their very own canoes. The Gowanus Dredgers is a volunteer organization dedicated to providing waterfront access and education to the public, and their paddle-in screenings are just one of the many events that bring people out to the water for some socially-distant fun.

The event also featured live musical accompaniment from Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton, two world-renowned silent film accompanists, composers, and musicians. They have traveled the world, performing their original score for Filibus and other silent films for audiences to enjoy. The live music certainly gave the silent film a new life.

Bringing attention to films like Filibus is just part of the work that WFPP does. As Saccone described in a recent interview, WFPP “strive[s] to show that women worked in film, all around the world, as more than just actresses during the silent era.” In addition to publishing original research, WFPP also features archival resources, information about festivals, and streaming links that can be used to watch some of these forgotten films. However, Saccone does not limit her work to the confines of the past: “As we continue to reclaim the work of these early women directors, we need to also support current female filmmakers and their struggles. They are two fights that are completely interconnected.”

Explore further resources on WFPP’s website, and for future paddle-in screenings, visit the Gowanus Dredgers events page