Part of the Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers series
Alice Guy-Blaché was an incomparable trailblazer. From 1896 to 1906, she was probably the only woman film director in the world, and she was the first director of any gender to make a narrative fiction film. Working her way up from secretary to Léon Gaumont, she led Gaumont Chronophone for a decade, and later owned her own production company, Solax. Her essential films address themes of race, sexuality, and women’s empowerment, among others. The program includes:
Algie the Miner (1912) | 10 min | A foppish dandy goes West, kissing the cowboys while proving he’s as tough as any of them, in this early example of queer cinema.
The Little Rangers (1912) | 12 min | Two heroic women nab a villain in this rousing, proto-feminist western.
A Fool and His Money (1912) | 12 min | The oldest known film to feature an all-black cast, this comic short is a vital historical record of the African-American image on celluloid.
Mixed Pets (1911) | 14 min | In Guy-Blaché’s earliest surviving U.S. work, misunderstandings arise when a new husband refuses to buy his new wife a dog and the couple’s domestic help conceal the fact they are married with a baby, and everyone tries to hide their adored ‘pets.’
Fallen Leaves (1912) | 12 min | A young girl worries about her older sister, who has taken ill with consumption.
Matrimony’s Speed Limit (1915) | 14 min | A young man has 12 minutes to marry if he hopes to inherit a fortune in this antic farce, which reveals race, class, and gender concerns of American society at the time.