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May 4, 2019 @ 10:00 am to approx. 12:30 pm

Guest – Dr. Drake Stutesman*

Narrated by Jodie Foster, Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché is a documentary about the first female filmmaker, exploring the heights of fame and financial success she achieved before she was shut out from the very industry she helped create. Guy-Blaché started her career as a secretary to Léon Gaumont and in 1896, at 23, was inspired to make her own film called La Fée aux Choux (The Cabbage Fairy), one of the first narrative films ever made.

Over the span of her career, she wrote, produced or directed 1,000 films, including 150 with synchronized sound during the silent era. Her work includes comedies, westerns and dramas, as well as films with groundbreaking subject matter such as child abuse, immigration, Planned Parenthood, and female empowerment. She also etched a place in history by making the earliest known surviving narrative film with an all-black cast. After a decade of making films at Gaumont she had a second decade-long career in the U.S., where she built and ran her own studio in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Pamela Green has dedicated more than eight years of research in order to discover the real story of Alice Guy-Blaché (1873-1968)  highlighting not only her pioneering contributions to the birth of cinema but also her acclaim as a creative force and entrepreneur in the earliest years of movie-making. Green interviews Patty Jenkins, Diablo Cody, Ben Kingsley, Geena Davis, Ava DuVernay, Michel Hazanavicius, Lake Bell, Jodie Foster, Julie Taymor, Agnes Varda, Drake Stutesman and Julie Delpy to name just a few who comment on Guy-Blache’s innovations. Green discovered rare footage of televised interviews and long archived audio interviews which can be heard for the first time in Be Natural, which allows Alice Guy-Blaché to tell her own story.

BE NATURAL premiered at the Cannes, Telluride, New York, Deauville and London Film Festivals in 2018.   Film opened in NY and LA on April 26, 2019.


Genre:  Documentary

Running Time:  103 min

Distributor:  Zeitgeist Films

  • Drake Stutesman is an adjunct professor at New York University, teaching theoretical film costume.  She edits the peer-reviewed, cinema and media journal, Framework. Her work has been published by, among others, the British Film Institute, the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles.), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), andBookforum.  Recent work includes the forthcoming book, HatOrigins, Language, Style (Reaktion Books, 2019), and essays on melodrama, silent cinema, Japanese film, 1960s fashion, subjectivity in biography, and costume scholarship.  She is writing a biography of silent film era costume designer, Clare West, and a monograph on milliner/couturier, Mr. John.  She is on the boards of the Fort Lee Film Commission and the Barrymore Film Center, at Fort Lee, New Jersey, the town where the film industry began in the U.S.


May 4, 2019
10:00 am to approx. 12:30 pm
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Desert Film Society


Historic Camelot Theatre @ the Palm Springs Cultural Center
2300 E Baristo Road
Palm Springs, CA 92262 United States
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