Germaine Dulac

1882 – 1942
Airing La Cigarette (1919) on Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 7:45 AM on TCM

Born in Amiens, France, Germaine Dulac moved to Paris in her youth. There she pursued her interest in journalism and feminism and began to write for La Fronde, a feminist magazine, from 1900-1913, where she became a drama critic. A growing interest in still photography along with knowing friend and actress Stacia Napierkowska led to Dulac’s foray into filmmaking. With financial backing from her husband, she started a film company with writer Irène Hillel-Erlanger. Dulac began making experimental films as early as 1915 and by 1920, her film La Fête espagnole was the first film to usher in French Impressionist cinema. The movement of filmmaking is noted for its surrealistic, avant-garde approach. 

Dulac is perhaps best known for The Smiling Madame Beudet (1923) and the Antonin Artaud-scripted The Seashell and the Clergyman (1928). Both films pre-dated Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí’s more well-known film Un Chien Andalou (1929). Dulac also wrote about cinema as a critic and theorist, championing film as a medium distinct from the other visual arts. From 1930 on, she supervised the production of newsreel documentaries for Pathe-Journal, France Actualities-Gaumont and Le Cinema au Service de l’Histoire. She died in Paris in 1942.

Select Filmography

La Fête espagnole (1920)
The Smiling Madame Beudet (1923)
Heart of an Actress (1924)
L'invitation au voyage (1927)
Seashell and the Clergyman (1928)