August 26 was Women’s Equality Day and on its heels I learned of an amazing woman, someone we haven’t known in recent history and we have all been the poorer for it. At a time when men were making films of trains pulling into stations and workers leaving factories, Alice Guy-Blaché (1873–1968) was making narrative films. Not only did the Frenchwoman make history by being one of the first people in the world to make fictional films (1896), she was the first filmmaker to use an all-African-American cast. She wrote, directed and produced over 1,000 films. She founded and ran her own movie production studio, The Solax Company, the largest pre-Hollywood studio in America. She was one of the first people to use techniques like double exposure and split screen and the first person to use synchronized sound in film.
In short, Alice Guy-Blaché was a pioneer and a storyteller, introducing the world to cinema and paving the way for today’s international film industry.
Los Angeles filmmakers, Pamela Green and Jarik van Sluijs, are responsible for reacquainting us with Alice by joining the crowdfunding site, Kickstarter. For those who don’t know, crowdfunding is the voluntary pooling of money from the general
public to fund anything from software development and startup companies to scientific research and, in this case, documentaries. Green and van Sluijs spent two years searching for Alice’s films, photographs and articles before they ran out of money. In the end, they managed to raise almost $220,000 for their film Be Natural: The untold story of Alice Guy-Blaché.
I put signs all around my studio that said BE NATURAL – that is all I wanted from my actors.
How was Alice able to accomplish so much at a time when women were not allowed to vote? Hopefully the final documentary will go a long way to answering that question. It’s very clear to me that history is written by men. Feminism aside, Alice is an integral part of film’s history and she made an incredible contribution to the industry. How was her story lost?
THE SQUARES – WEEK 34
Patterns are the name of the game this week. On two separate occasions I came across patterns that I think have an African flair. I decided to recreate them in joined squares. I thought the second pattern looked better in a row of three squares so we have a bonus square this week. By the end of the year I’ll need an extra 20 squares to bring the total up to 11 blankets-worth. I might as well start now!
The bonus square is a tribute to the canning day we had with our friends Andrea and Dan. They have become foragers and picked free crabapples and “road” apples. I spent hours peeling and chopping those apples on Sunday for chunky apple sauce. My mom used to can but I never really learned. It was truly eye-opening to see how long it takes to preserve food. Next weekend they’re tackling tomatoes. I still haven’t decided if I’m up for handling piping hot tomatoes and feeling all my hangnails sing!
Square Count: 238
Bonus Squares: 1