The first published edition of Germaine Dulac's What is Cinema?, almost 75 years after its creation.
Composed of the cineast's lectures (1925-1939), compiled by her partner Marie-Anne Colson-Malleville and preserved in the Light Cone archives, the book illuminates the vital role of this pioneer of the 1920s French avant-garde, as an innovator of modern cinematic thought, who was reflecting, early on, in a sustained and analytical way about what cinema is.
Germaine Dulac (1882-1942) was the first feminist filmmaker and a key figure in the development of the French avant-garde cinema of the '20s. In the early 1900s, she had been a photographer and writer in two feminist journals, La Fronde and Le Francaise. After World War I there were more opportunities for women in post-War France, and she, intrigued with film, began Delia Film, her own production company. Her first films were standard melodramas. In 1917, she and theoretician Louis Delluc teamed up to begin the French avant-garde movement, which is also called French Impressionism. Dulac was the center of the French Impressionism comprised of intellectuals and filmmakers devoted to promoting film as the “seventh art.” Dulac was fascinated with movement and her abstract films reflect this. She attempted to create a style that she dubbed “the integral film... a visual symphony made of rhythmic images.” La Coquille et le Clergyman (1927) is her best example of integral film. In addition to abstract images, Dulac was also known for her abiding commitment to feminist issues as can be seen in her more traditional, and best-known film La Souriante Madame Beudet (1923).