We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2019 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
The Thrilling True Adventures of the First Woman Filmmaker
Written by Mara Rockliff
Illustrated by Simona Ciraolo
Published by Chronicle Books (2018)
Copy provided by Wayne County Public Library.
From the dust jacket: Meet Alice Guy-Blaché, She made movies. Some of the very first movies—and some of the most exciting! Mara Rockliff and Simona Ciraolo tell the story of one of film’s pioneers—and the first woman in the world to make movies. Driven by passion for storytelling, Alice saw a potential for film that others had not seen before, allowing her to develop new narratives, new camera angles, new techniques, and to surprise her audiences again and again.
Film making has been in Alice Guy-Blaché’s blood since she was a little girl. Growing up, Alice had her fair share of stories. Her grandmother and her nursemaid spun tales of wonder. Her father owned a bookstore, where she devoured stories of romance, adventures, and even heartache. When tragedy struck the family business—earthquake, fire, and robbery—Alice needed to get a job. She found an opening at a camera company.
“This is an important post… I fear, Mademoiselle, that you may be too young.”
“But Monsieur… I will get over that!”
When Alice discovered the moving picture, she decided to create something more than that. She decided to film a story. Alice used costumes, designed sets, and asked people to play the parts. Alice was full of ideas. She told stories through the camera and she also came up with surprises. Eventually, her films came alive with colors and sounds!
Alice met a cameraman; together, they moved to America. It was not easy having to start over but Alice managed to get back up her feet. Movie-making had been a big part of her life. She continued to make them until the war broke, lives lost to Spanish flu, and big businesses took over the movies. When Alice’s husband left for Hollywood, she decided to go back to France with her children.
History is, unfortunately, dominated by men. The film making industry is one of them. Not very many people were aware that women had been part of movie directing since the beginning. If you’ve heard of Alice Guy-Blaché, then consider yourself lucky.
In some articles I’ve read online, Alice Guy-Blaché was considered a lost visionary and a forgotten film pioneer. Of the thousands of films that she had produced in her career, only about a hundred or so had been saved. Thanks to authors and illustrators like Mara Rockliff and Simona Ciraolo, the stories of people like Alice Guy-Blaché—who changed history forever—are re-introduced to the public, especially to children. It’s not often that you come across picturebook biographies about film makers. This is worth checking out.
For more information about Alice Guy-Blaché, read this retrobituary by MentalFloss.