When Alice Guy-Blaché completed her first film in 1896, 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 (2018) tells the largely forgotten story of her rise from Gaumont secretary to her appointment as head of production a year later, and her 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. Directed by Pamela B. Green from eight years of research, Be Natural is a celebration of a woman who pioneered the art of cinema at its inception and a look into the enduring legacy of her innovations and accomplishments. Narrated by Jodie Foster, the documentary features interviews from filmmakers and actors including Agnès Varda, Ava DuVernay, Diablo Cody, Patty Jenkins, Marjane Satrapi, Julie Delpy, and many others, and features rare archival footage that allows Alice Guy-Blaché to tell her own story.
Director/co-writer Pamela B. Green and co-writer/executive producer Joan Simon joined Cynthia Felando (Film and Media Studies, UCSB) for a post-screening discussion of Be Natural.
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Co-writer/director Pamela B. Green
Pamela B. Green is an Emmy-nominated, award winning filmmaker and founder of PIC, an entertainment and motion design boutique based in Los Angeles. She is a Sundance Institute Documentary Fund recipient. Her recently Peabody-nominated documentary Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché was Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival (Cannes Classics), where it opened to a standing ovation. Her film also featured at Deauville, Telluride, NYFF, and the BFI, before releasing theatrically to critical acclaim in the U.S. and worldwide in 45 countries. She was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Documentary Award and won a Clio for design and 2 FOCAL International awards.
Green creative directs, as well as produces film and TV main titles and graphics, among these the Bourne series, The Muppets, Twilight, and Supergirl. She has also created award packages, advised on internal story sequences, and directed commercials for Audi and other international brands.
Co-writer Joan Simon
Joan Simon is a writer, curator, editor, and arts administrator who works independently for museums, foundations, publishers, and diverse media organizations in the United States and in Europe. Now living in Los Angeles, Simon was based in Paris for over twenty years. During her five years as curator-at large for New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, she curated Alice Guy-Blaché: Cinema Pioneer and Alexander Calder: The Paris Years, 1926-1933 (with the Centre Pompidou). Simon also organized Lorna Simpson, the first retrospective in Europe devoted to this influential African-American artist (Jeu de Paume in collaboration with the Foundation of the Exhibition of Photography) and Sheila Hicks: Fifty Years, the artist’s first retrospective (Addison Gallery of American Art).
Most recently for Pamela B. Green’s feature documentary Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché, Simon served as co-writer and executive producer. Former managing editor of Art in America (1974–83), a founding publisher/editor with poets Anne Waldman and Rob Padgett of Full Court Press (publishing Allan Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and Joe Brainard, among others), Simon has also served as a museum director, written books, and contributed to journals and exhibition catalogues, as well as to films about art and artists.
Moderator Cynthia Felando (Film and Media Studies, UCSB)
After graduating from UCLA, Cynthia Felando worked as an art house and film festival programmer. Primary teaching and research interests include American film history and culture, youth culture and media, contemporary trends in international cinema, and the history and criticism of short films. She is also the editor of the peer-reviewed journal Short Film Studies, and is a past recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award awarded by UCSB’s Academic Senate.
Recent publications include Discovering Short Films: The History and Style of Live-Action Fiction Shorts (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015); “Spike Jonze Shorts Stories” in The Films of Spike Jonze (eds: Wyatt Moss-Wellington and Kim Wilkins, Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming, 2019); and “Lizzie Borden: Interview with Filmmaker and Biography” in Independent Female Filmmakers: A Chronicle Through Interviews, Profiles, and Manifestos (ed: Michele Meek, Routledge, forthcoming, December 2018).
This event is sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center.
The CWC Classics program celebrates cinema’s rich history, bringing classic films back to the big screen for critical viewing and discussion. These events feature filmmakers, academics, and professionals who can contextualize the production and historical impact of the films. The series occasionally presents classic films in their original 16 or 35 mm formats. CWC Classics events celebrate the history and significance of cinema’s enduring legacy.
The Carsey-Wolf Center is committed to screening documentaries from across the world that engage with contemporary and historical issues, especially regarding social justice and environmental concerns. Documentaries allow filmmakers to address pressing issues and frame the critical debates of our time.