Friday, August 21, 2009

Alice Guy Directed Over 300 Films

I've been pretty much neglecting The List I began about a year ago - perhaps I was disheartened by the Twilight debacle

To recap: I started a series of posts focusing on various female film directors. I wondered why so shockingly few women through the past 100+ years have had successful careers (particularly in the US), and why it was still so ludicrously difficult for women to get movies financed and made.

Today, Fuzzy Bastard forwarded a really interesting article about Alice Guy, yet another female pioneer of cinema I had never heard of. Back in 1895 when the Lumière brothers more or less invented the movies and screened their short films, Alice Guy, a secretary at the Gaumont still camera company was in the audience. Gaumont "allowed" her to film some shorts on her day off for no pay, and Guy proceeded to invent narrative cinema. A surprising number of her films survive, which makes it even more unfortunate that she has been almost entirely forgotten. Wonderfully, Kino has just released a DVD which contains more than 50 of her films. Here, she filmed music hall performer "Little Tich" in 1900. Jaques Tati cited this short as an influence.

"Le Tonneau Ivre" is a charming little comedy short from 1906:

Guy eventually made her way to New York and set up a film studio in Fort Lee. She subsequently directed some films for the Hollywood studios, returning to France in 1922. She was unable to find work and never made another film. She died in New Jersey in 1968.

(image: Kino)

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