• Between 1900 and 1920, it was women who reigned over the Hollywood film studios, before being erased from the registers of history.

  • A documentary by Clara and Julia Kuperberg, called "And the woman created Hollywood", retraces this astonishing period.

  • The documentary is broadcast as part of the CineComedies festival in Lille, which takes place from Wednesday to Sunday.

Do you know Frances Marion, Alice Guy or even Dorothy Arzner?

Rest assured, you are not the only ones who have never heard of these women!

And yet, they are among the hundreds of pioneers who wrote the first pages of Hollywood legend at the start of the 20th century.

Because between 1900 and 1920, it was women who reigned over the film studios.

Before being erased from the registers of history.

The CineComedies festival, which is held in Lille from Wednesday to Sunday, has decided to look into this forgotten part of the cinematographic adventure by broadcasting the documentary

And the woman created Hollywood

(Friday, 2:30 p.m., at the Le Métropole cinema, in Lille) .

The two directors, Clara and Julia and Kuperberg, return to this astonishing epic.

Patroness of the first film studio

“We were flabbergasted to discover this hidden episode of Hollywood, explain the directors to

20 Minutes


Never, during our film studies, had we heard of it.

Back in 2014. The two French filmmakers embark on a documentary on the arrival of women in key positions in Hollywood studios in the early 1970s. However, to their great surprise, they learn, over the interviews, that he first golden age existed within the Californian studios.

It is Ally Acker, an American director, who tweaks them.

"She told us that in 1986 she fell on a box of archives from the Oscars ceremony dating from the 1910s," they recall.

Women were in all the photos: behind the camera, editing the films, writing the scripts and even as producers.


In all, a hundred names come to the surface.

Starting with that of the Frenchwoman Alice Guy.

Former secretary of Gaumont, which then sold cameras, she landed in America with her husband to set up the first film studio there, of which she became the patroness.

CineComedies also pays tribute to him by showing some of his short films (Thursday, 4:30 p.m., at Skema business school, avenue Willy-Brandt, in Lille).

Unrewarding activity

In the end, the reason for this feminine concentration is quite simple.

In its early days, cinema was a new activity, not very rewarding and therefore shunned by men.

"The broadcast of short films is used to fill the breaks in music halls, during stage cleaning, between two shows", tell the Kuperberg sisters.

Little by little, the activity will develop and new professions will be created, like, a century later, with the Internet.

For example, the documentary tells that women simply become editors because they know how to sew and they have small hands, skilled in working with film.

It was only with the arrival of talkies and after the crisis of 1929 that men regained control.

The cinema then becomes a real industry, corporatist unions are created to separate jobs.

“At the time, women had no right, especially not to unionize.

So they disappear.

Before 1930, there were around a hundred women directors, after 1930, there were only two left”, deplore Clara and Julia Kuperberg.

On the sidelines, committed films that evoked the cause of blacks, Jews, homosexuals or abortion.

From now on, more light subjects are needed to feed the films.

Many of these women, like comedian and director Mary Pickford, will end up depressed.

Official Hollywood history begins to be written in the 1940s, by men.

Who have forgotten, voluntarily or not, this feminine period.


Lille: The Splendid troupe and Gérard Jugnot honored at the CineComedies festival


Lille: "With Benoît Delépine, we have forged a story with this region", admits Gustave Kervern, sponsor of the CineComedies festival

  • Culture

  • Lille

  • Hauts-de-France

  • Festival

  • Women

  • Documentary

  • Hollywood

  • Story

  • Comedy