Friday, July 2, 2010

In History: Alice Guy-Blaché

This is the 32th post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

Yesterday, July 1, would have been the 137th birthday of Alice Guy-Blaché (also sometimes known as Alice Guy). Guy-Blaché was born in 1873 in France and later lived in the United States before returning to France. She is considered to be the first woman film director and the first woman movie studio owner. (According to this, she is still the only woman to have run and owned a movie studio.) Her 28-year career in film making included her directing, producing, writing and/or overseeing more than 700 films. Guy-Blaché was an innovator in movie making, being the one to develop narrative film making; you can read more about her technical achievements here.

Reports say that many of Guy-Blaché's films were lost, and that the world basically forgot about Guy-Blaché until her memoir was published. Since then, Alice McMahan has written a detailed book about Guy-Blaché, and the Fort Lee Film Commission is working to see that she is honored and recognized. According to this CNN story, the "the National Board of Directors of the Directors Guild of America has voted to award Guy-Blaché a posthumous 'Special Directorial Award for Lifetime Achievement' in honor of her groundbreaking career." A graveside ceremony was held for Guy in New Jersey yesterday. She died in 1968.

Guy-Blaché's films can still be seen; for example, this collection includes some of them. I believe a couple are available on the internet in their entirety. And if you're interested, here is her IMDB page.

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