Although largely forgotten to history, Alice Guy-Blaché was one of the very earliest pioneers in moving pictures, exploring and innovating from the late 1890s til the 1920s, when Wall Street and Trust capitalism squeezed her out of the art and business of filmmaking.
Pamela Green’s film resurrects her work and re-establishes her place in film history.
To this day, Alice Guy-Blaché is the only woman to have ever built her own film studio.
Although French, Alice Guy-Blaché was one of the pioneers of The Western genre. Hers were distinguished by the strong women who were featured in principle roles.
Although she had originally written The Fool and His Money for an inclusive cast, because the actors of European descent declined to participate, Alice Guy-Blaché became the first writer/director/producer of an all African American cast.
Given the unauthorized release of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center on May 2, 2022, we revisited this interview from October, 2018. Rebecca Traister joined us again to update us on the evolving situation, which can be heard at the end of the archived interview.
Rebecca Traister is writer at large for New York magazine, whose latest book is GOOD AND MAD: THE REVOLUTIONARY POWER OF WOMEN’S ANGER, published by Simon & Schuster. . Her earlier books include ALL THE SINGLE LADIES, and the award winning BIG GIRLS DON’T CRY. Her work has been published in The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the New York Observer among other publications.
William Hogeland has written about the American Revolution era in three previous books, THE WHISKEY REBELLION, DECLARATION, AND FOUNDING FINANCE. His latest book, THE AUTUMN OF THE BLACK SNAKE: THE CREATION OF THE U.S. ARMY AND THE INVASION THAT OPENED THE WEST, published by Farrar, Strouse, Giroux in 2017, goes in depth into the history surrounding the American Revolution, and particularly a major defeat of the new United States, in fact the greatest defeat effected by North American indigenous peoples in the history of this continent. But few have heard about it, much less the individuals who made it happen. William Hogeland, is determined to remedy this.
First a bit of history: On this date, July 19th, in 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention was convened. It was the first women’s rights convention, eventually leading after more than 7 decades to, among other things, the 19th Amendment granting women’s right to vote in the U.S.
And on July 19th 1692, 8 people were found guilty of witchcraft and hanged in Salem, Mass., including Rev. George Burroughs, the only minister to be executed.
But now, we’ll fast forward a hundred years to “more enlightened times,” when the American Revolution had been won, and the power elites of that era were looking West across the Appalachian Mountains to so-called “vacant lands” for speculation and expansion. With only one problem, that being the people who had been living there for millennia didn’t agree that it was vacant.
A young George Washington explored, surveyed and speculated in lands west of the Appalachians, in the process becoming one of the causes of the Seven Years War – the first global war, causing over a million casualties – and also enhancing his own career and making his fortune.
The tobacco export business required ever more new lands for planting, due to severe, rapid depletion of the soil, hence the lust for more and more new land to plant.
Thomas Jefferson provided an evolving legal theory of Free Holding, dating back to the Anglo Saxon invasion of England, and disavowing the right of kings to grant tenure of lands, which had begun with the Norman Invasion. He believed anyone could take and hold any land without the permission of a sovereign, i.e Direct Ownership, as long as it was “vacant” .
His advice to farmers concerning tobacco’s soil depletion: “Better to move than manure.”
Blue Jacket, a Shawnee leader, rallied his people to resist American Westward expansion.
Unlike Blue Jacket, Little Turtle believed that without British armaments, the Americans could not be decisively defeated. His efforts to procure them were unsuccessful.
Joseph Brant, a member of the Six Nation Iroquois Confederacy tried to be a diplomat and go-between among the warring factions – American, Indian and British. His efforts only resulted in ever diminishing trust and respect on all sides.
One treaty after another was made and broken by the Americans, although for the most part honored by the Indians. As westward encroachment increased – 10,000 immigrants coming down the Ohio River per month – war was inevitable.
General Arthur St. Clair, who suffered the greatest defeat by Indians in U.S. history, when as many as 1,200 men, women and children – out of 1,500 – were killed, including most of the officers of the U.S. military.
St. Clair’s defeat by the Miami Indians at the Battle of the Wabash River Nov. 4, 1791.
Exact numbers are impossible to determine, but according to David Johnson in Fort Amanda – A Historical Redress (1790-1815):
In a 3 hour battle, of 982 soldiers and 250 civilians, 757 were killed, 413 wounded, 34 unwounded, a Total Casualty Rate of 95%. Placed head to toe, the bodies of those killed at St Clair’s Defeat would measure approximately 4,400 feet.
As we have done each May for the last 10+ years, Forthright Radio is going to the movies, specifically reviewing documentaries from the upcoming Mendocino Film Festival. Today our show is in 2 parts. In the first, we interview Robin Lung, producer/director of FINDING KUKAN, a sort of detective story to find a long forgotten, lost film, and the almost forgotten woman who produced it, Li Ling-Ai.
In the second segment, we speak with Leah Warshawski and Todd Soliday about their film, BIG SONIA. It’s about the amazing Sonia Warshawski, who survived 3 concentration camps, 2 beatings from SS guards, each of which almost killed her, and then, on the very day Bergen Belsen was liberated by the British, a bullet to the chest, which also almost killed her. Today, she is not only alive in her nineties, but she is a thriving, beloved member of her Kansas City community. And if you think this is just another depressing story of cruelty and brutality, you don’t know Sonia. We hope you’ll stay tuned to hear about her.
Among the things that unite these two films are: they are both about women with indomitable spirits, who are determined to get the truth out about unimaginable cruelty and atrocities. They are both about events that happened in WWII, one in Europe the other in Asia. They are both about women with unique fashion sense, of great longevity and spunk.
It’s about an Academy Award-winning color documentary about World War II China, that has been lost for decades. An uncredited female producer from the early days of Hollywood. The mystery behind their disappearance from history. In the 1930s, China risked collapse under the onslaught of Japan’s military juggernaut. Chinese-American firebrand Li Ling-Ai decided to jolt Americans into action with a new medium: 16mm Kodachrome color film. She hired photojournalist, Rey Scott, to travel to China and document the war-torn country, including the massive bombing of the wartime capital. Their landmark film, Kukan: The Battle Cry of China, was screened for President Roosevelt at the White House, and received one of the first Academy Awards for a feature documentary in 1942. So, how come we have never heard of Li Ling-Ai? And why have all copies of Kukan disappeared? Our guest, Filmmaker Robin Lung, turns detective to uncover this forgotten story.
Robin Lung is a 4th generation Chinese American, who was raised in Hawai‘i. For over 15 years, she has been bringing untold minority stories to film. A graduate of Stanford University and Hunter College in NYC, Robin Lung made her directorial debut with Washington Place: Hawai‘i’s First Home, a 30-minute documentary for PBS Hawai‘i about Hawai‘i’s historic governor’s mansion and the home of Queen Lili‘uokalani. She was the associate producer for the national PBS documentary, Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority (aired October 2008), Hawai‘i unit producer for acclaimed film Vivan Las Antipodas!, unit producer for NOVA’s Killer Typhoon, and producer/director for numerous short documentaries for the Historic Hawai‘i Foundation.
In the second segment we move to the other theater of WWII, the Nazis’ march across Europe, specifically the invasion of Poland in Sept. 1939, and what we have come to know as The Holocaust.
Here’s some of the description of the film on the Mendocino Film Festival website:
A “diva” known for wearing leopard print and high heels, Holocaust survivor Sonia Warshawski, serves as a bridge between cultures and generations, while continuing to run her late husband’s tailor shop in Kansas City. She miraculously survived concentration camps, death camps, and being shot in the chest on Liberation Day, but now she faces new challenges: the mall, where she works at her shop is about to close its doors, and the risk of forced retirement looms on the horizon. And unbelievably, the voices of Holocaust deniers seem to be getting louder & stronger. What will she do?
Producer | Co-Director
Leah Warshawski produces documentary-style features, television, commercials, and branded entertainment in remote parts of the world. Her first feature, FINDING HILLYWOOD (2013) won 6 awards, and screened at more than 65 festivals. Leah’s career in film began in Hawaii, working in the marine department for LOST and HAWAII. She is currently working on the feature doc PERSONHOOD (2017-18), and advises filmmakers on outreach, marketing and hybrid distribution plans. In addition, Leah co-founded rwandafilm.org.
Co-Director | DP | Post Supervisor | Editor | Motion Graphics
Todd Soliday is a jack-of-all-trades with 25 years experience in production and post production. He specializes in documentary storytelling and adventure films such as PLATINUM (2007). He was post-production supervisor for FINDING HILLYWOOD. Recent feature documentary projects include OUT OF LUCK (2015) and THE BREACH (2014). He and Leah are married.