The film follows the parallel stories of an early Christian ascetic and a modern minister, with most actors in dual roles. Gabriel (Courteney Foote) is a medieval monk who devotes himself to completing a statue of “Truth,” only to be murdered by a mob when his work turns out to be an image of a naked woman. The contemporary Gabriel is the pastor of a large wealthy urban congregation for whom religion is a matter of appearances, not beliefs. The hypocrisy of the congregation is exposed by a series of vignettes in which the Naked Truth, literally portrayed by a nude Margaret Edwards, reveals their appetites for money, sex and power.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Lois Weber (June 13, 1879 – November 13, 1939) was an American silent film actress, screenwriter, producer, and director, who is considered “the most important female director the American film industry has known”, and “one of the most important and prolific film directors in the era of silent films”. Film historian Anthony Slide asserts that: “Along with D.W. Griffith, Lois Weber was the American cinema’s first genuine auteur, a filmmaker involved in all aspects of production and one who utilized the motion picture to put across her own ideas and philosophies.”
Weber produced an oeuvre comparable to Griffith in both quantity and quality, and brought to the screen her concerns for humanity and social justice in an estimated 200 to 400 films, of which as few as twenty have been preserved, and has been credited by IMDb with directing 135 films, writing 114, and acting in 100. Weber was “one of the first directors to come to the attention of the censors in Hollywood’s early years”.
Weber has been credited as pioneering the use of the split screen technique to show simultaneous action in her 1913 film Suspense. In collaboration with her first husband, Phillips Smalley, in 1913 Weber was “one of the first directors to experiment with sound”, making the first sound films in the United States, and was also the first American woman to direct a full-length feature film when she and Smalley directed The Merchant of Venice in 1914, and in 1917 the first woman director to own her own film studio. During the war years, Weber “achieved tremendous success by combining a canny commercial sense with a rare vision of cinema as a moral tool”. At her zenith, “few men, before or since, have retained such absolute control over the films they have directed – and certainly no women directors have achieved the all-embracing, powerful status once held by Lois Weber.” By 1920, Weber was considered the “premier woman director of the screen and author and producer of the biggest money making features in the history of the film business”.
Among Weber’s notable films are: the controversial Hypocrites, which featured the first full-frontal female nude scene in 1915; the 1916 film Where Are My Children?, which discussed abortion and birth control, and was added to the National Film Registry in 1993; her adaptation of Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan of the Apes novel for the first ever, Tarzan of the Apes film in 1918; and what is often considered her masterpiece, The Blot in 1921. Weber is credited with discovering, mentoring, or making stars of several women actors, including Mary MacLaren, Mildred Harris, Claire Windsor, Esther Ralston, Billie Dove, Ella Hall, Cleo Ridgely, and Anita Stewart, and discovered and inspired screenwriter Frances Marion. For her contribution to the motion picture industry, on February 8, 1960, Weber was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
ABOUT THE ACCOMPANIST:
Donna Parker, a native of Los Angeles, California, began her organ studies at the age of 7. Four years later she was introduced to the theatre organ and, at thirteen, began her classical organ instruction with Richard Purvis, Organist and Master of Choristers Emeritus and Honorary Canon of San Francisco’s famed Grace Cathedral. Donna made her first recording at the age of 15 and has been touring globally ever since, much to the delight of sports audiences, diners and concert-goers.
In addition to playing, Donna has actively promoted the theatre pipe organ art form, appearing on CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt, PM Magazine, and numerous entertainment news spots. She has conducted master classes nationally and abroad, and has worked with public school districts to incorporate this all-American art form into their music history curriculum. In 1996 Donna was honored by being named Organist of the Year by the American Theatre Organ Society. She was elected to serve on the international board of directors of the ATOS for six years, where she headed the scholarship committee that assisted students studying theatre organ. After a hiatus, she once again served on the board for an additional six years. She was the Publisher of Theatre Organ–the official journal publication of the American Theatre Organ Society, for several years. She currently serves as a core faculty member of the ATOS Summer Youth Adventure, and is the ATOS Membership Secretary. Donna also manages a limited private teaching and coaching schedule as well, and serves as organist at The Grotto and St. Clare Church, both in Portland.
Donna also served on the Board of Directors for the International Youth Silent Film Festival, a non-profit organization that offers the opportunity for filmmakers under the age of 20 to create a modern version of silent film, and see it on the big screen with live accompaniment.