Alice Guy-Blaché

Active - 1912 - 1920  |   Born - Jul 1, 1873   |   Died - Jan 1, 1968   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Mystery

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Alice Guy was the first female film director. She may also be the first director to make a scripted fictional film, La Fee aux choux (1896), a little fairy tale about children born in the cabbage patch. She began her career in Paris in 1895 as a secretary to Leon Gaumont. Upon seeing the first Lumiere cameras, Guy became fascinated and recognized its narrative potential. Gaining her boss's permission, she began directing little sketches that she had written. Gaumont soon put her in charge of his film production department. For the next 10 years Guy wrote, directed, produced, and created the wardrobe for over 400 one-reelers. Guy also experimented with visual effects, sound, and hand-painting. In content, her work spanned the French genres ranging from slapstick to Biblical epics. She married Herbert Blaché , an Englishman, in 1907, and they emigrated to the United States. After her first child was born in 1909, she founded the Solax production studio in Flushing, New York. Between the years 1910 and 1913 she made over three hundred one-reelers. In 1922 she divorced Blaché and returned to France with her two children where she attempted to respark her flagging career, and to fight for proper recognition, as film histories began to attribute much of her French films to filmmakers such as Jasset and Emile Cohle. Unfortunately, she did not really gain formal industry recognition for her work until the early '70s, after her death.