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Best Seat in The House — Women making history

By Jason Asbell

Women making history - from the birth of cinema to the present.

On Mar. 16, 18 & 19th, The Civic Theatre celebrates Women’s History Month 2020 with two new documentaries honouring the outstanding achievements of two remarkable women; Sarah Outen, who traversed the Northern Hemisphere using just her own woman-made power and Alice Guy-Blaché, the most prominent figure in the history of cinema that no one has ever heard of.

Making history that no one will ever forget, UK adventurer, author and motivational speaker, Sarah Outen, undertook her “London2London: Via The World” expedition between 2011 and 2015. Travelling by bike, kayak and rowboat across Europe and Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America and finally the Atlantic, Sarah’s incredible four-year odyssey saw her travel for over 20,000 miles. Her documentary film is woven from hundreds of hours of filmed footage during the expedition and is called ‘Home: An Outward Journey Inward’. 

As an audience, we feel all of Sarah’s emotions during many intimate moments along her journey. We feel the kindness of strangers, the wonders of the wild, the savagery of the elements, the near-death experiences, the demons of her emotional trauma and PTSD, and her love for her wife Lucy.

For historic contributions (that almost went completely forgotten) we are bringing in the tale of Alice Guy-Blaché, who completed her first film in 1896 in Paris. Alice was not only the first ever female filmmaker, but one of the first directors to make a narrative film also. ‘Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché’ follows her rise from a Gaumont Film Company secretary to her appointment as head of production in 1897, and her subsequent illustrious 20-year career in France and in the United States, as the founder of her own studio and as writer, director, and/or producer of 1,000 films—after which she was veritably erased from history. Until now…. Directed by Pamela B. Green and narrated by Jodie Foster, ‘Be Natural’, is a riveting detective story tracing the circumstances by which this extraordinary artist faded from memory and the path toward her reclamation.

“When Pamela Green first talked to me about Alice Guy Blaché I thought, ‘how is it possible that I’ve never heard of her?’ One of the great pioneers of our industry who created films alongside the Lumière Brothers, Léon Gaumont, Georges Méliès... The facts in this documentary blew my mind. It’s an honour to voice this story. May Alice’s story finally set the record straight and restore her place in cinema history.” 

- Jodie Foster

Director, Pamela B. Green, explains, “… more often than not, women’s stories are pushed to the shadows throughout history. My hope is that this film furthers the conversation around how necessary women are to the art of cinema. If people know about Alice—or knew about and continued to remember her contributions to early cinema -- how different might the creative and business landscape be?”

The Civic Theatre is excited to be able to highlight these, and other powerful women’s stories such as ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ which opens at The Civic on Wednesday 11th March, 2020 for a two-night run. This is the highly-acclaimed fourth feature from French writer-director Céline Sciamma, and winner of both the Queer Palm and Best Screenplay awards at 2019's Cannes Film Festival. Make sure not to miss this beautiful film, already dubbed by many critics as the best movie of 2020, and it’s only March!

Amazing women = Amazing cinema! 

Please visit civictheatre.ca to find out what’s playing and current session times.

Jason Asbell is The Civic Theatre Programming Director and lover of women — his wife, mother and daughter especially.