Pionnières du cinéma

IFcinéma: a season paying tribute to the women pioneers of cinema

Updated on 15/02/2022

From the earliest days of cinema, women have written, directed and produced films and thus contributed to the development of this art. The Institut français is devoting a programme to these "pioneers of cinema".

Entitled Pionnières du cinéma - D'Alice Guy à Agnès Varda: les inventrices du cinéma ('Pioneers of Cinema - from Alice Guy to Agnès Varda: the women who invented cinema'), the season is available to the French cultural network abroad and their partners on IFcinéma.

From documentary to fiction, from shorts to features, women have invented forms and narratives. Their artistic legitimacy is undeniable, their contribution to cinema is immense. Yet they are the broadly forgotten in the history of the so-called “7th art”.

In this programme, the Institut français brings together the most significant works of six pioneering French women, offering them international recognition.


Alice Guy - 13 short films 

Alice Guy was the first female director of feature films in the history of cinema. She was allowed to direct at a time when, at the turn of the 20th century, it was a profession reserved for men. 13 of her short films, made between 1898 and 1907, are available on IFcinéma.

A portrait of Alice Guy


Musidora – Pour Don Carlos

Adapted from a novel by Pierre Benoit, Pour Don Carlos was directed by Musidora in 1921.


Marie-Louise Iribe – Le Rois des Aulnes

Based on Goethe's poem, Le Roi des Aulnes is the second film directed by Marie-Louise Iribe, in 1930.


Germaine Dulac - La Souriante Madame Beudet

Directed by Germaine Dulac in 1923, La Souriante Madame Beudet is often presented as the first true feminist film. Madeleine Beudet, unhappy in her bourgeois marriage, sees her desire to escape gradually transformed into a desire to kill.


Nicole Vedrès – Paris 1900

For her directorial debut, Nicole Vedrès' Paris 1900 chronicles Parisian life between 1900 and 1914. Considered a model of editing, the work is made with the help of period documents and extracts from more than seven hundred films.

Read more about Paris 1900  


Agnès Varda – Cléo de 5 à 7

An iconic film of the French New Wave, Cléo de 5 à 7 was a springboard for Agnès Varda's career. The film follows Cléo, a singer, in a story that runs between 5 and 6.30 pm.

Read more about Cléo de 5 à 7