When Jodie Foster shows up for an event, this cinema icon does more than draw a crowd, she makes her own history. Such was the case in Monaco last week for Director Pamela B. Green’s documentary BE NATURAL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ about the life and historic career of pioneering filmmaker Alice Guy-Blaché.
Jodie Foster narrates this exploration, the subject of which many would say is the appearance of cinema’s first director in that she told actual human stories on film, synched sound, and colorized her footage as of 1896.
Held on Oct. 3, for Pink Ribbon Monaco, under the patronage of Prince Albert, this event featured co-writer Joan Simon, filmmaker Anne Fontaine, along with Foster and Green to kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Monaco.
The evening included rare high-quality restorations of Guy-Blaché silents and sound experiments at the Princess Grace Theatre, mirroring the US critical acclaim dating back to April. BE NATURAL actually premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in the Cannes Classics category.
The NY and LA events for this film were attended by Kathy Bates, Kiernan Shipka, Catherine Hardwicke, Julie Corman, Teri Shropshire, Cari Beauchamp, Patricia Riggen, with Q & A’s. However, this Monaco event had special resonance for the venue, a theater built for Hollywood’s own Princess Grace under the auspices of her son’s philanthropic participation, with Hollywood royalty Jodie Foster, a self-made woman in the business since age 3, to address the legacy of “forgotten” helmer Alice Guy-Blaché, who was literally on the vanguard of motion picture innovation.
Last week, to pay homage to this wonder in the land of sensational male-driven silents, Foster focused on the narrative quality of this early adopter, and the poignant depiction of story rather than the seminal special effects of the turn of the century made popular by “The Great Train Robbery” and similar exploitative action films of the period. Meanwhile, here is a glimpse into the resurrected historic place in film history of one seminal innovator.
First? A quick synopsis…
When Alice Guy-Blaché completed her first film in 1896 Paris, she was not only the first female filmmaker, but one of the first directors ever to make a narrative film. Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché follows her rise from Gaumont secretary to her appointment as head of production a year later, and her subsequent illustrious 20-year career in France and in the United States, as the founder of her own studio and as writer, director, and/or producer of 1,000 films—after which she was veritably erased from history. Until now…. Directed by Pamela B. Green, the film is narrated by Jodie Foster.
Screenmancer International Producer Sonia Machado-Hines, her husband actor Terence Bernie Hines, and Screenmancer Photojournalist Emily Russell were on hand to capture this historic event.
Russell’s images are included here, as well as a living link library of BE NATURAL’S recent press to help resurrect the Guy-Blaché legacy.
Media Archive: Alice Guy-Blachê
NEW YORK TIMES: September 6, 2019: Alice Guy-Blaché featured as part of Manohla Dargis’ Overlooked series
LE MONDE: August 12, 2019: Emmanuelle Lequeux’s article on Alice Guy-Blaché mentions Be Natural: https://www.lemonde.fr/festival/article/2019/08/12/la-cineaste-alice-guy-pres-de-mille-films-et-cent-ans-d-oubli_5498658_4415198.html
LIBÉRATION: June 5, 2019: Laure Murat’s review: https://www.liberation.fr/debats/2019/06/05/la-pellicule-invisible-d-alice-guy_1731901
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD: August 1, 2019: Paul Byrne’s review: https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/gold-dust-retelling-of-first-female-movie-maker-s-story-20190731-p52chs.html
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: June 18, 2019: Mick LaSalle’s review: https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/movies-tv/review-be-natural-illuminates-a-forgotten-female-screen-pioneer
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: May 23, 2019: Michael Phillips’s review: https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/movies/ct-mov-women-directors-siskel-chi-film-society-0524-story.html
THE NEW YORK TIMES: April 25, 2019: AO Scott’s review: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/25/movies/be-natural-untold-story-alice-guy-blache-review.html?login=email&auth=login-email
THE NEW YORK TIMES: April 26, 2019: Elizabeth Weitzman’s feature ran with artwork: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/26/movies/alice-guy-blache-be-natural.html
LEONARD MALTIN: April 19, 2019: Leonard Maltin’s review:https://leonardmaltin.com/be-natural-a-woman-rewrites-film-history/
For more exciting details about this documentary, and where to watch it, visit https://benaturalthemovie.com/ for further information.
Screenmancer thanks Jodie Foster & Pamela Green for the invitation. — Quendrith Johnson, Thrive Global
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