Jury Coordination and Notes

First Female Director, My Personal Heroine by Brianna Hope Beaton

Alice Guy-Blaché set the starting point for female film directors. She represents the first female director in the motion picture industry. Alice Ida Antoinette Guy (maiden name) entered this world on July first 1872 in Paris, France, to parents Mariette and Emile Guy. Following completion of school at Sacred Heart Convent, she accompanied Leon Gaumont as his secretary at a still photography company. After seeing some footage shot by the Lumiere brothers in a private screening, Alice asked Gaumont if she could use his camera to film a story. She directed and produced her first film, The Cabbage Fairy (La Fée Aux Choux) in 1896 at the young age of twenty-three.

She excitedly directed hundreds of short films following The Cabbage Fairy. She worked with Gaumont, Louis Lumiere, Thomas Edison, Gustave Eiffel and many others to make her visions a reality. Alice hired Herbert Blaché, an English cameraman, on her first location shoot. They fell in love, married in 1907 and relocated to America a year after. Alice Guy-Blaché opened her own film studio called Solax and produced nearly a film a week! A year after Alice assigned her husband as president of Solax, he started a rival company. World War I slowed down production for both of them and Alice directed her last film, Tarnished Reputations, in 1920. She and her husband divorced in 1922 and she moved back to France with her children, depending on her daughter for economic income and support. In 1965, she moved back to Mahwah, New Jersey, with her daughter. Alice died in a nursing home on March 24, 1968. She died and vanished from our early film memories.

Barbra Steisand recognizes Alice Guy-Blaché for her work and states that Alice symbolizes a “French film pioneer who invented the director’s job.” She paved a way for female directors everywhere. Pioneering the technology of synching sound to film and creating the first film with an all African-American cast shows how remarkably innovative she was. She did all she wanted to do and understood all the aspects of telling a story. I have so much appreciation for Alice because she showed her aspirations, her ways of thinking, her wants and her passions in all that she did, succeeding in a time when  men commandeered the filmmaking world.

There is a Kickstarter campaign by Pamela Green and Jarik Van Sluijs, to create a film documenting the story of Alice Guy-Blaché. The campaign video is narrated by Jodie Foster.

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