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Women Pioneers in European Cinema

EWA Network was at the Festival Lumière in Lyon, to honour the first filmmakers

On October 18th, Alessia Sonaglioni, Cecilia Johnson-Ferguson, Mariette Feltin and Veronique Le Bris were at the Festival Lumière in Lyon to show EWA Network's short film about Pioneer Women in Cinema during an event organized by Creative Europe MEDIA at the European Film Forum. The short film was also screened at the CNC's roundtable on women and cinema the next day.

As more women are speaking up in an industry ruled by men, a historical event took place under the roof of the Lumière Brothers : a long-needed reminder to our male counterparts that some of the very first filmmakers were women - brilliant, talented women, such as Alice Guy, Elvira Notari and Lotte Reiniger.

Today, we are pleased to share our short film with you, to finally speak their names and give them the recognition they deserve.

Women Pioneers in European Cinema

By EWA Network, with the support of Creative Europe MEDIA

Alice Guy (1873-1968) - France :
With her film « La Feel aux Choux » (1896), Alice Guy is the first director of cinema history, at the age of 23. Interested in the craft of animated photography, she manages to convince her employer Léon Gaumont to let her shoot a ‘’comical'' film outside her work hours.

Impressed by the success of the film, Léon Gaumont hands her the reigns of a specialized fiction unit, where she will direct over 200 films from 1896 to 1907.

In 1910, after having moved to the United States, she becomes the first woman founder of a production company, the Solax Film Co.

Elvira Notari (1875-1946) - Italy :
As the first Italian women director of silent cinema, Elvira Notari directs and writes over 60 films over her career. Her main artistic focus will be the popular Naples, building the foundations for cinematographic neorealism.

In her films, she casts family members and friends, and even takes on the role of typical Neapolitan characters herself.

Much like her peers, the rise of fascism will complicate her career path, her neorealist films ending up censored by the regime.

Lotte Reiniger (1899-1981) - Germany :
Lotte Reiniger is the inventor of silhouette animation, a technique she used to direct one of the first feature length animated film in Europe, « The adventures of Prince Ahmed », in (1926).

Inspiring well-known filmmakers such as Walt Disney in « Fantasia », Michel Ocelot in « Princes et Princesses », or even Ben Hibon in his animation « The Tale of the Three Brothers »  (in « Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 »), Lotte Reiniger directed over 40 silhouette animated films until the year before she died, at 82.