Alice Guy-Blanché (France)

Alice Guy-Blanché (pronounced: Gee-Blashay) was the first female filmmaker. 
She made, directed, and produced (often doing triple duty) about 1,000 films, many of them short films. She is one of the first filmmakers to utilize many film techniques, such as close-ups, hand-tinted color, synchronized sounds.

Alice Ida Antoinette Guy was born in Saint-Mandé, Paris, on July 1, 1873. Her parents, Marie and Émile Guy, were French but lived in Chile, where her father was a bookseller. The family moved back to Paris and where Alice began her career in film making. When Blaché was 22, she got her start in films and where she worked as a secretary in Paris for Léon Gaumont, an inventor who had begun manufacturing motion-picture cameras. She asked Gaumont if she could film a few scenes and it led her to make her first film “La Fée aux Choux” (“The Cabbage Fairy”) in 1896. Gaumont soon made Blaché the head of film production at his company, where she produced and supervised hundreds of films, helped create an organized studio system years before Hollywood was a company town. In 1907, she married Herbert Blaché, and resigned as head of film production to accompany him to the United States. In 1910, two years after giving birth to their daughter, Simone, Alice Blaché formed the Solax Company and began making her own movies. She was so successful that in 1912 — the year she gave birth to their son, Reginald — Blaché built her own state-of-the-art studio in Fort Lee, N.J., then a bustling film town. Her film, “Two Little Rangers,” is feminist by default. Blaché wondered if women were ready for the right to vote, but in her actions and in her films she expressed female drives, desires, and self-determination. At Solax, she successfully made the transition to feature filmmaking, creating longer, more narratively complex titles that were well-received, though they also entailed higher production costs and longer preparations. The last chapter of Blaché’s filmmaking career was marred by setbacks and disappointments. She struggled with her health, financial difficulties, a broken marriage and continued industry upheaval. In 1922, the Solax studio was auctioned off, and Blaché, now divorced, returned to France with her two children. In France, she tried to find film work with no luck. It’s unclear why she didn’t succeed, although, by the 1920s, the movies were a big business and no longer as hospitable to women who wanted to make their own films. She sold her books, paintings, and other possessions and wrote articles and children’s stories. Blaché wrote of her life: “It is a failure; is it a success? I don’t know.” She died on March 24,
1968, in a nursing home in New Jersey. She was 94.

Dargis, Manohla. “Overlooked No More: Alice Guy Blaché, the World’s First Female Filmmaker.” The New York Times, 6 Sept. 2019,

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