Girls on Film: How women were written out of film history

Influential filmmakers like Alice Guy-Blaché were essential to the development of cinema — but modern filmmakers and historians still overlook their accomplishments

Jane Campion
(Image credit: AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

The history taught in classrooms is a tale dominated by men. For every Cleopatra or Susan B. Anthony who gets even a cursory mention, there are countless women like Dr. Clelia Duel Mosher, who was a sex researcher well before Kinsey, or Virginia Hall, who was "one of the most dangerous Allied agents in France." But while they lived notable lives despite the sexism of their eras, they eventually fell victim to the narrow and biased focus of those who filtered history and omitted them.

The filter can be politically and socially motivated, but it can also be the unintended result of one's narrow experience or memory. Spike Lee made waves this summer when he published a list of "films that I feel you must see if you want to make films" as part of his Kickstarter campaign. It is a list he's been giving his graduate film students at NYU for the last 15 years. There are dozens of names, but only one woman — Katia Lund, the co-director of City of God.

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