Les Effrontées – Female cinema is a collection of four documentaries that questions the relationship of French cinema to women: the low place given to them from the beginning, the past or future battles to remedy it, the representation of women on screen and the evolution of look at these questions. From the forgotten pioneers to the directors or actresses of today, it is a story of female cinema that is told there. Interview with Selma Schnabel, director of Brazen, episode 1: where are the women?
In the history of female cinema, there is first Alice Guy, who created fiction.
Alice Guy was a pioneer in France, then in the United States. In 1895, the Lumière brothers projected their first film shot outside a factory in Lyon. Alice Guy, Léon Gaumont’s secretary, attends. She then convinced Léon Gaumont to shoot short films. Daughter of a bookseller, she was the first to tell and stage stories in the cinema.
She then headed the fiction department of the Gaumont company…
She creates it and directs it. Alice Guy was able to take this place because cinema was then experimental, not yet taken “seriously”, not yet lucrative. She creates the scenery, the suspense, the close-up, begins to colorize the film by hand, adds effects, sound. When she followed her husband, a technician from Gaumont, to New York, she was the first woman to create a production company and its studios, La Solax Film Co, in 1910. She was also the first to work with black actors.
Gaumont and the history of cinema have forgotten her?
Gaumont has left it out of its history. And the collective memory retained Georges Méliès, who filmed his conjuring tricks. It is very touching to watch his interviews, at 90, recounting the beginnings of cinema. Since 2018, a prize in her name has rewarded a French director.
What are his films about?
Like today’s directors, she brings a different perspective to the world, which she questions with humour. In The Results of Feminism in 1906, she depicted women smoking, watching men sew, iron, push a pram, argue at the bar and see those who try to get in. In another, she depicts the cravings of a pregnant woman who steals a child’s lollipop!
Another forgotten, Jacqueline Audry, who spoke of female pleasure to millions of spectators?
His films, especially his adaptations, were very popular. Gigi, according to Colette, attracted three million spectators in 1949. In Remind, the libertine ingenue, Olivia or Boyish, it evokes feminine pleasure and homosexuality.
The New Wave has recently returned to Agnès Varda.
Realizing The Short Tip, with Philippe Noiret, a beginner, and fishermen from Sète, Agnès Varda inaugurated, in 1954, this new cinema which was to be called the New Wave. Yet until very recently, history forgot it to keep only Chabrol, Truffaut, Godard, Rohmer…
With 25% of female directors, where does France stand?
It is close to the Nordic countries. The proportion drops to between 10 and 15% in southern Europe. And around 10% in the United States. The budget of French female directors is 30% lower and their salary is 40% than that of directors. However, in 2021, three directors won three of the most prestigious awards: Julia Ducournau received the Palme d’or, Audrey Diwan, the Golden Lion, and Chloé Zhao, the Oscar for best director.
France 2, 10:50 p.m.; May 15 at 11:05 p.m.