Pamela B. Green
(Feature film debut)
Narrated by Jodie Foster
Sadly, the odds would undoubtedly be in my favour when I say that you have never before heard of a filmmaker, and so much more, by the name of Alice Guy-Blaché. To be fair, neither had I before attending the screening of this captivating documentary feature.
We need to go all the way back to 1896 in Gaumont, France, where at the age of just 23, Alice Guy-Blaché made one of the first narrative films ever, THE CABBAGE FAIRY (LA FÉE AUX CHOUX). At 1 minute in duration, this film also stands as the first ever to be directed by a female. From there, this documentary goes on rewriting film history to illustrate how over the span of her career, Alice Guy-Blaché went on to write, produce or direct 1,000 films, including 150 with synchronised sound during the ‘silent’ era. Upon her move to the United States, which is where Alice had a second decade-long career, she even built and managed her own studio in Fort Lee, New Jersey (the birthplace of the American film industry). Using long archived audio interviews heard for the very first time and rare footage of televised interviews featuring several filmmakers of now, BE NATURAL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ explores the fame and financial success that Alice achieved before she was inexplicably shut out from the very industry that she helped create.
Dear Alice Guy-Blaché,
it is impossible to fathom that you have been kept as cinemas age-old and best-kept secret, ostensibly owing solely to your gender, until today.
All that we can do now is open our ears to your voice and hear your story, finally, and say thank you!
Readers, many revelations made in this documentary are as equally astounding as the upward career trajectory Alice Guy-Blaché was able to achieve during a time this was very much a men-only world. But what is especially striking, which this film clearly illustrates, is just how visionary this filmmaker was. She was constantly thinking in an era that was well beyond the one she was living in, both as an innovative filmmaker and in terms of equality and against prejudice. All of this despite being told “I’d rather you were dead” by her own father when advising of her career aspirations!
Though it can sometimes be a lot to absorb, Jodie Foster narrates this grossly belated true story with just as much genuine affection and gratitude as all of the celebrities who speak here, which include actor Sir Ben Kingsley (GANDHI), writer Diablo Cody (JUNO), and film directors Patty Jenkins (WONDER WOMAN) and Anne Fontaine (COCO BEFORE CHANEL, THE INNOCENTS). First-time filmmaker Pamela B. Green, who dedicated more than 8 years of research to this project, beautifully captures and presents her subject.
If you consider yourself a cinephile, then you simply must watch BE NATURAL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ.
Moviedoc thanks The Backlot Films for the invite to the screening of this film.
BE NATURAL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ is released in selected cinemas throughout Australia from August 1st, 2019.