Alice Ida Antoinette Guy-Blaché (née Guy; 1 July 1873 – 24 March 1968) was a French pioneer filmmaker, active from the late 19th century, and one of the first to make a narrative fiction film. She was the first woman to direct a film. From 1896 to 1906, she was probably the only female filmmaker in the world. She experimented with Gaumont‘s Chronophone sync-sound system, and with color-tinting, interracial casting, and special effects.
She was artistic director and a co-founder of Solax Studios in Flushing, New York. In 1912, Solax invested $100,000 for a new studio in Fort Lee, New Jersey, the center of American filmmaking prior to the establishment of Hollywood. That year, she made the film A Fool and His Money, probably the first to have an all-African-American cast. The film is now at the National Center for Film and Video Preservation at the American Film Institute.
Last April I wrote a story on Dorothy Arzner. What brought me to her story was how she curtailed Hollywood’s attitudes about women. She did this by being exceptional in her work of writing scripts. But she worked herself up from the bottom at a time when anything was possible with a keen eye and hard work.
With a film career spanning from 1919 to 1943, fifteen years of which were spent as a director, Dorothy Arzner remains the most prolific woman studio director in the history of American cinema.
Now the real pioneer of early cinema has been exposed by the expert sleuthing of film students and others. Alice’s early start was in photography where she made important observations and contributions.
She went on to become the head of a major studio in the pre-Hollywood era, making movies about groundbreaking topics such as child abuse, immigration and female empowerment.
She was the first filmmaker to synchronize sound and film. But she was widely watched not only for these innovations: Her films are emotionally engaging, humorous and satirical.
When cinema started, people did not believe that cinema had a bright future, and this is another reason why the name Alice Guy-Blaché was not written in the first films.
I found this biography very satisfying because it uncovers the immoral actions of the men surrounding her and taking the credit and writing the “his-tory”. She is now no longer obscure!
From the “Course Hero essay” by Sebastian Vivanco Prof. Jennifer Penton Cinema 323 July 2020Alice Guy-Blaché: Why She Was Forgotten
Feminism is a doctrine and social movement in which women are asked to recognize the capacities and rights that have traditionally been reserved for men. One of the most striking stories in the world of cinema is the one of Alice Guy-Blanché. Who was Alice Guy-Blaché? She was the first female film director in history of film, who wrote and directed a thousand films.She started in Gaumont pictures where she did jobs such as directing, producing, writing, designing backgrounds, etc. Alice had an impeccable career in France being a head of production, director and scriptwriter that the men in charge awarded her with an enormous responsibility and she became one of the most important figures in the French cinema.For Alice cinema was a process of exploration and discovery. She moved to the United States to continue her career and again she was the first woman to own and operate her own movie studio.
Her legacy was in the words “Be Natural” which is how she directed and her words of wisdom to those who followed. I just love this simple way of being.
You must be logged in to post a comment.