October 04, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

That Hollywood is a man’s world is certainly true, but it’s not the whole truth; during the silent era, for example, female screenwriters outnumbered males 10 to 1. Even Renaissance film woman Jodie Foster, the live-action host of this trenchant compendium of movie herstory, confesses surprise at the forgotten legacy of women’s roles — as producers, directors, screenwriters, and editors. The centerpiece of Reel Women: The Untold Story, which is fluently translated here from Ally Acker’s book of the same title into a harmonious interactive tour, is ”The Reel Story,” a QuickTime video documentary broken down by craft and era. One plus: cross-indexed profiles and filmographies of some 135 women, from the ’20s’ Mabel Normand (an actress who codirected several early shorts with Charlie Chaplin) to today’s Jane Campion (director of The Piano) and Thelma Schoonmaker (Martin Scorsese’s longtime editor). Reel Women gives a whole new meaning to the term chick flick. A

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