The first female director to rise in France after World War II, Jacqueline Audry created a gallery of self-determined women. Her films were often censored in other countries because of her unconventional depictions of sexuality. After working as a script supervisor and assistant director, she got her first shot at directing with Les malheurs de Sophie (1946), about a rebellious young girl fighting for her right to independence. Audry worked closely with acclaimed writer Colette on adaptations of three of her novels — Gigi (1949), Minne (1950) and Mitsou (1956) — all of them featuring independent young women.
Most critics consider Olivia (1951), an ahead-of-its-time depiction of lesbian romance at a girl’s school, her masterpiece. It achieved extensive play on the U.S. exploitation circuit under the title The Pit of Loneliness. Audry also filmed the first adaptation of Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialist play Huis Clos, also known as No Exit (1954). Because she used traditional filming techniques and usually took her stories from literary sources, she fell out of favor with the rise of the French New Wave in the 1960s. Within recent years, Audry’s work has been re-evaluated and Olivia was restored in 2019.