Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché
MAD | Women Direct/Women Deliver
Quick, name three women filmmakers from the first half of the 20th century? If that seems hard, how about just one from the 19th Century? Alice Guy-Blaché was making films before Charlie Chaplin, before DW Griffith even.
"She witnessed the birth of cinema with the Lumière brothers in Paris in 1895 then directed one of the world’s first narrative films, The Cabbage Fairy, the next year; made her own movies that took on immigration, labor conflicts and anti-Semitism; wrote a screenplay about Planned Parenthood; and assembled the first all-black film cast.
So why have most of us never heard about the first female filmmaker? That’s what Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché wants to know.
Hired in 1896, at 22, as a secretary to the motion-picture pioneer Léon Gaumont, Guy-Blaché went on — with the encouragement of her boss, who thought cinema was a young woman’s adventure, as long as the mail didn’t suffer — to make some 1,000 shorts and features. Eventually moving to the United States, she founded the Solax studio, where her mandate to actors was, "Be natural."
But in 1922, Guy-Blaché divorced and returned to France, where she sank into obscurity — her accomplishments often credited to men or erased entirely in historical accounts of the industry she helped to create." Kathryn Shattuck, New York Times
"What starts as a biography turns into a detective thriller as Green crisscrosses the globe, searching for clues as to why Guy-Blaché has been forgotten." Katie Walsh, LA Times
"Be Natural has the potential to completely upend the canon of international cinema." April Wolfe, The Wrap
"Inspiring because it is also appalling…By the end you won’t only have a clear idea of who this remarkable woman was; you may well have acquired a new taste in old movies." AO Scott, New York Times
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