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This is what feminism often means, unfortunately: rediscovering — over and over again — the achievements of the women who blazed trails before us who have been erased in the annals written in their wake. Annals written by men, of course. This happens so often, and so easily and casually, that it’s very plain that it’s no accident but a deliberate erasure of women’s accomplishments.

And so it is with Alice Guy-Blaché, who isn’t just an innovator and trailblazer among women filmmakers but of cinema on the whole. Including the bits that men were involved in. Allow me to quote myself, from a piece I wrote about the pioneering women of documentary film for PBS’s Independent Lens blog in 2016:

When we talk about the early years of cinema, there is no separating “the history of women in film” from “the history of film.” Women have been there from the beginning, and have shaped the medium in transformative ways.

The idea that films could tell stories as opposed to documenting reality was hit upon by a woman, Alice Guy-Blaché, who made the very first narrative movie, the 60-second-long “La Fée aux Choux (The Cabbage Fairy)” in 1896. (It was also the longest film made up to that point.)

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MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson is a freelance writer on film, TV, DVD, and pop culture from New York City and now based in London. She is the webmaster and sole critic at, which debuted in 1997 and is now one of the most popular, most respected, and longest-running movie-related sites on the Internet. Her film reviews also appear in a variety of alternative-weekly newspapers across the U.S. Johanson is one of only a few film critics who is a member of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (the Webby organization), an invitation-only, 500-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities. She is also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. She has appeared as a cultural commentator on BBC Radio, LBC-London, and on local radio programs across North America, and she served as a judge at the first Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film Festival at the 2003 I-Con, the largest SF convention on the East Coast. She is the author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride, and is an award-winning screenwriter. Read Johanson's recent articles below. For her archive, type "MaryAnn Johanson" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).