Who Was the First Woman Filmmaker?
If you're not familiar with the name Alice Guy-Blaché, you should be.
“Every bit as important as D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille”
–Anthony Slide, Film Historian
Alice Guy-Blaché (July 1, 1873 – March 24, 1968) had a profound influence on the evolution of cinema. She was a pioneer whose works stand alongside those of the Lumière brothers, Georges Méliès, and Edwin S. Porter in cinema’s growth from an optical illusion, to a storytelling medium, to an art form.
In the early days of moviemaking, long before there was a film industry, everyone was just making it up as they went along. Because Guy-Blaché crafted stories, she shaped what it meant to be a director into the role as we define it today.
Guy-Blaché was a trailblazer in every aspect of filmmaking. She used color tinting and special effects long before the recognized giants of early cinema had even begun to. She experimented with the Chronophone sound-syncing system invented by the French inventor Léon Gaumont, and directed the first film in existence to feature an all-African American cast (A Fool and His Money, 1912).
From 1896 to 1920, she wrote, directed, or produced more than 1,000 films, some 350 of which survive. This video shows some of Guy-Blaché's work, and reiterates her vital importance to the early days of filmmaking.