Alice Guy-Blaché, World's First Female Film Director
At the turn of the 19th century, Alice Guy-Blaché was the best known (and perhaps only) female film director in the world. Over the course of her career, she directed and produced more than 600 silent films and 150 synchronized sound films. She worked her way up in the industry, getting her start as secretary to Léon Gaumont and eventually being promoted to head of production for his company.
After spending most of her life in France, Guy-Blaché moved to New York with her husband and began her own production company, at one point churning out a film a week. She was known for her innovative filmmaking, featuring special effects, color, and sound experimentation; interracial casting; and smart scripts. She shaped the idea of what the director's role ought to be at a time when the technology was just beginning to develop, and in 2012, she was posthumously awarded the Directors Guild of America Lifetime Achievement Award.