Alice Guy Blaché: the first female director

Still from THE OCEAN WAIF (1916)

Alice Guy, as she was known, was not only the first female director, but the first director of narrative films – period. At a time when films were being made mainly for scientific or commercial purposes, Alice Guy had the bright idea to tell a story instead. Her first efforts were short experiments, clocking in under a minute. But as the head of production at Gaumont, she made her first feature-length films like the big budget, biblical epic THE LIFE OF CHRIST in 1906. She was also the first to use synched sound and special effects, like double exposures or running film backwards.

Over the course of her 25-year-long career, Alice Guy wrote, directed and produced over 1,000 films that spanned nearly every genre, from comedies and westerns to detective stories and remakes of literary classics. She has the longest list of credits on that I’ve ever seen. To celebrate her work, The Whitney has rounded up an impressive amount of her films for the exhibit “Alice Guy Blaché: Cinema Pioneer.” See this week’s schedule of screenings.