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“Be Natural” Sheds Light on Women in Film April 1, 2019

By Marian Luntz
Tags: mfah-films, women-filmmakers, be-natural, alice-guy-blache

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché

Courtesy of Zeitgeist Films

Courtesy of Zeitgeist Films

Courtesy of Zeitgeist Films

The dawn of cinema in the 1890s has traditionally been told through the achievements of men, including the likes of the Lumière Brothers, Georges Méliès, and Thomas Edison.

The Museum is proud to update that history with the Houston premiere of the fascinating new documentary Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché. Narrated by Jodie Foster, Be Natural details the pioneering accomplishments of Alice Guy-Blaché (1873–1968), cinema’s first female director, screenwriter, producer, and studio owner.

A Legacy Uncovered
I had the privilege of seeing Be Natural at the Cannes Film Festival last May along with Houston filmmaker Michelle Mower, who has made several independent features. Mower, an early supporter of Be Natural, became involved with the film through a Kickstarter campaign.

“I can’t recall how the campaign for Be Natural got on my radar, but when I saw the pitch video, I was shocked,” Mower says. “How could someone as essential to the early days of cinema as Alice Guy-Blaché be erased from the history books? As a female director, it really upset me that her legacy had been buried. I knew I had to help.” Another Houston supporter of the Kickstarter campaign is Trish Rigdon, president of Women in Film and Television-Houston and institutional program chair of media arts at the Art Institute of Houston.

A Remarkable Past, Present & Future
Director-producer Pamela Green had full access to Guy-Blaché’s papers, photos, diaries, and artifacts. “We discovered a lost film collection—one of the oldest in the world—and identified 10 films that Alice directed or produced,” Green said. “All of this allowed me to fill in the missing links. I discovered there were many controversies surrounding this remarkably creative woman. We aim not just to look back at Alice’s past, but to stand next to her and look into her future—our present.

“Now is the time to step forward and bring Alice’s story to light, given the current conversation about women’s rights and how our stories are pushed to the shadows throughout history.”

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché screens Friday, Saturday & Sunday, April 5, 6 & 7. On Friday, Michelle Mower and Trish Rigdon moderate a post-film Skype Q&A with Pamela Green.