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The Short Films Of Alice Guy-Blache

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Alice Guy-Blaché was not only the first female director, but also one of the first film directors, period. But odds are you’ve never heard of her. The French-born filmmaker entered the movie business at the very beginning – in 1894, at the age of 21.
Over the course of her career, she directed nearly 1,000 films – including what’s regarded as the very first narrative film, La Fée aux Choux (The Cabbage Fairy) in 1896 – created some of the first examples of cinematic close-ups, hand-colored film and synchronized sound, founded her own movie studio, and shaped cinema today. She wrote comedies and tragedies, and created films, such as The Consequences of Feminism, that interrogated gender roles. She was a single mother who ran her own movie studio. But by 1919, Guy-Blaché’s career had come to an abrupt end, and the majority of her films were subsequently forgotten. Due to a film canon dictated by male power, her legacy was almost erased, with many film historians misattributing her greatest films to men. The recent documentary feature, Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché, helped to shine a light on the life and work of this cinematic pioneer, and this month at Essential Cinema, we celebrate the work of Alice Guy-Blaché with a selection of some of her greatest short films. (Dir. by Alice Guy-Blaché, 1896 – 1919, France/USA, approximately 90 mins., Not Rated)

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