If you haven’t heard the name Alice Guy-Blanché, then you’re in good company. Many of today’s brightest directors, cinephiles, and film scholars haven’t either. Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, and George Lucas may have revolutionized cinema, but it was Guy-Blanché who came along and unleashed film’s true potential.
At the dawn of cinema, while the Lumière brothers were still treating movies like parlour tricks, Guy-Blanché decided to use the medium to tell narrative stories. She went on to become one of history’s most prolific filmmakers. Guy-Blanché wrote, produced, and directed over a thousand films. She also pushed the nascent technology to its limit, and incorporated colour and sound during the silent film era. If history weren’t so fraught with misogyny, I would say it’s shocking that most people don’t know who she is. But it makes perfect sense. So on International Women’s Day, let’s take a moment to acknowledge a forgotten legend.
The documentary Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché examines the rise and fall of Guy-Blaché’s career. Directed by Pamela B. Green and narrated by Jodie Foster, the movie features a host of the film industry’s sharpest minds including Ava DuVernay, Diablo Cody, and Julie Delpy. I haven’t watched the doc yet, but it looks like essential viewing for any self-respecting film-nerd. You’re going to want to forward this trailer to all the cinephiles in your life. They’ll owe you big time.
Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché synopsis:
Narrated by Jodie Foster, Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché is a documentary about the first female filmmaker, exploring the heights of fame and financial success she achieved before she was shut out from the very industry she helped create. Guy-Blaché started her career as a secretary to Léon Gaumont and in 1896, at 23, was inspired to make her own film called La Fée aux Choux (The Cabbage Fairy), one of the first narrative films ever made.
Be Natural opens in Los Angeles on April 19, 2019, and New York on April 26 with a wider release to follow.