Interview with Pamela Green. Discovering the story of Alice Guy-Blaché - Aviva - Berlin Online Magazin und Informationsportal für Frauen Interviews im Februar 2024 - Beitrag vom 04.08.2021

Interview with Pamela Green. Discovering the story of Alice Guy-Blaché
Sharon Adler

The director of the documentary "Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché", just nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Research, talks with Sharon Adler from AVIVA-Berlin about telling the long forgotten story of Alice Guy-Blaché (1873 – 1968) who was not just the first female filmmaker but also producer and businesswoman.

Sharon Adler: In your documentary ´Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché´ you´re asking filmmakers and historians about her and her work. Nobody seems to know her. How did you come across her and what fascinated you about her?

Pamela Green: I first heard about Alice Guy-Blaché watching a show called Reel Models about pioneering women in cinema. Then I started to read about her and the list of her accomplishments was mind-blowing: directing one of the first narrative films ever; dealing with subjects in her films that were so ahead of her time such as race, immigration, birth control, gender inequality; making the first narrative film with an all African American cast; being the first woman to build and run her own studio… The list goes on….It´s hard to not be fascinated by her.

Sharon Adler: Did you exchange with the filmmaker Marquise Lepage, who in 1995 made a documentary about Alice, called ´The Lost Garden: The Life and Cinema of Alice Guy-Blache´ and/or with Katja Raganelli, who in 1997 made the documentary ´Alice Guy-Blaché (1873-1968) – Hommage an die erste Filmemacherin der Welt´?

Pamela Green: Yes, I watched both documentaries and spoke with both of them, but I did new research. I would say Be Natural is made of 70% new material and was just nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Research!

Sharon Adler: You have been working eight years in making this movie. Please tell us something about your research. How did you proceed, who did you meet and what did you learn?

Pamela Green: It was like a mountain of information that I took one step at a time, piece by piece. Every day I tackled something different. My first goal was to track down more of Alice´s descendants and descendants of the people she knew because I thought they must have something to share about her. And they did, more than I could have ever imagined. Never-seen-before family photos, Alice´s personal correspondence, artifacts….that really showed Alice´s human side.

Sharon Adler: The filmmaker and producer Alice Guy Blaché was one of cinema´s earliest and most important pioneers, but her achievements have been minimized and ignored. Until today women filmmakers in the film industry are not represented and treated equally. To make this visible, have this been a concern of you and of producer Jodie Foster?

Pamela Green: I agree, there are still not enough women and people of color making content, but it´s changing slowly. When I first started talking about the first female filmmaker to people in the industry, trying to raise funds, nobody wanted to hear about it. Now, she´s in the news almost every day! It´s incredible. We still have a long way to go, but I believe showing that a woman was there alongside the more famous fathers of cinema, the Lumières and Méliès, makes a big difference, especially to little girls. I wish I had had Alice as a role model growing up. Cementing Alice´s place in history was important to Jodie as well.

Sharon Adler: You have mostly been working in the entertainment industry. Did making the documentary about Alice change your view/perspective on making movies?

Pamela Green: Yes, before making the documentary, I had been working in Hollywood for several years, doing everything from cold-calling, sales and research to creative directing and producing, working on major motion picture film and TV title sequences, movie trailers, posters, and stock and archival footage, etc.
I had all the tools I needed to make Be Natural, but I constantly doubted myself. I hadn´t been to film school and at times felt uneducated despite all my experience. I questioned whether I could pull this off, but resurrecting Alice´s legacy became so important to me that I was able to put my doubts and those of critical people aside, for her. I felt she needed me to tell her story in full, that she was being misrepresented as a footnote in film history. Be Natural was a life-changing experience. I still have doubts, but they don´t get in the way anymore.

Sharon Adler: How did Alice Guy inspire you?

Pamela Green: She truly ignored the obstacles and saw the possibilities. She worked tirelessly to achieve her dreams, at a time when women didn´t even have the right to vote.

Sharon Adler: What or how do you want the audience to remember (about) Alice?

Pamela Green: Alice was not just the first female filmmaker. Making one of the first narrative films is an amazing achievement, but she accomplished so much more, pioneering techniques we still use in cinema today. She was a great businesswoman as well, a major player in motion pictures, who contributed to the blueprint for studio management.

Sharon Adler: What are your future plans, will you research more or give lectures about Alice Guy Blaché?

Pamela Green: Be Natural is screened at schools and universities worldwide. I´m often invited to speak to students who fall in love with Alice and it´s great to see them take an interest in silent cinema as a result. I´m also developing other projects and writing a biopic about her, which will be an unexpected take on her story, nothing like Be Natural. It will include new materials that didn´t make it into the documentary.

Read more at AVIVA-Berlin:

Be Natural – Sei Du Selbst. Kinostart: 5. August 2021
Späte und umso notwendigere Femmage an eine große Pionierin an der Wiege des Kinos durch eine Erbin im Geiste. Pamela B. Green möchte der Drehbuchautorin, Produzentin und Studiobesitzerin Alice Guy-Blaché (1873 – 1968) einem größeren Publikum bekannt machen. BE NATURAL - SEI DU SELBST wird in der Originalfassung erzählt von Oscarpreisträgerin Jodie Foster.
Copyright-Foto von Pamela Green: Filmperlen, Courtesy of Be Natural Productions.


Beitrag vom 04.08.2021

Sharon Adler