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The Suffragette (12A*) + Make More Noise! shorts + live musical accompaniment

Part of: Nevertheless, She Persisted

A still from Urban Gad's The Suffragette (Die Suffragette), 1913

Asta Nielsen, one of the megastars of the Silent era, plays a militant British suffragette in this contemporary portrait of the movement.

As common for the time, this film comes to the story of Suffrage from a comedic point of view, hoping to dispel some of the anxieties around the change of power dynamics. Asta Nielsen is a British suffragette, as a character loosely modelled on a member of the Pankhurst family. She gets involved in a plot to murder a government official, but romance gets in the way.

While the film itself has an ambiguous relationship to the cause, its contemporary depiction of suffrage protests and imprisonment combined with its lead performance has led to its popularity.

The film is introduced by performer, writer and scholar Naomi Paxton, whose research explores the contribution of theatre professionals to the suffrage campaign.

Composer-pianist Wendy Hiscocks provides live musical accompaniment.

The feature is paired with highlights from Make More Noise! (BFI National Archive), a collection exploring the early representation of suffragettes in the first decades of the 20th century.

Germany 1913 Dir Urban Gad 60 min

Dr Naomi Paxton is a researcher, writer and performer. Her research interests include the performative propaganda of the suffrage movement, and networks and cultural histories of feminist theatre. Naomi frequently speaks about her research on radio and tv, is a BBC Radio 3/AHRC New Generation Thinker, and recently curated an exhibition in Parliament entitled What Difference Did the War Make? World War One and Votes for Women. She is the editor of The Methuen Drama Book of Suffrage Plays and her new book Stage Rights! The Actresses’ Franchise League, activism and politics 1908-1958 is being published by Manchester University Press in May this year.

Composer-pianist Wendy Hiscocks was born in Wollongong and studied composition with the celebrated Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe at the University of Sydney. In 1988 she moved to London and has received commissions, premières and broadcasts from distinguished soloists, ensembles, choirs and festivals from around the world. As a pianist, Wendy has recorded Chabrier’s duo and duet repertoire for Edition Stil with Roy Howat and has performed at venues ranging from London’s Purcell Room to the Kusatsu International Summer Academy and Festival in Japan. She appears as the pianist on a CD of her chamber music recently released by the Symposium label. Her skills as composer-pianist are in demand for silent film accompaniment with appearances at the BFI South Bank, the Barbican, UK Festivals and Welsh National Opera.

*This film is locally classified by Barbican Cinema 

Please arrive promptly at the advertised start time

Proof of ID may be requested on entry to films, in compliance with BBFC ratings


illustration of shirley chisholm

Watch: Nevertheless, She Persisted

Inspired by the 100-year anniversary of the first women gaining the right to vote in the UK, we present a timely season of feature films and documentaries that look at women’s rebellious and often dangerous strides towards equality.

Barbican Cinema 1