Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Birth of the One-on-One Interview

There's a rather remarkable celebration of journalism on the docket of today's closing screenings at the St. Louis International Film Festival. Along with Our Newspaper, a 2010 Russian documentary about crusading reporter Andrei Shkolny, the Cinema St. Louis event is also showing Australian filmmaker Dennis Tupicoff's short The First Interview.

Back in August of 1886, celebrated photographer Nadar sat down in Paris to interview scientist Chevreul, on the occasion of the latter's 100th birthday. Narrated by Agnès Varda, Tupicoff's film reconstructs what is billed as “the world's first media interview.”

An historic sit-down (Copyright Dennis Tupicoff)

Among the topics discussed that day were Molière, the scientific method, how to reach the century mark and daredevil balloonists. The short is based on a short-hand account of the interview published on September 5th, 1886 in Le Journal Illustré. Tupicoff shot his recreation in Melbourne and Paris, relying on prosthetic make-up to ensure that his actors closely resembled the images captured by Nadar.

Tupicoff has been making films since the mid-1970s, winning a number of prizes recently for his 2007 animated short Chainsaw. The First Interview has been submitted to various other festivals and is also due to screen on Australia's ABC-TV network.

[Dennis Tupicoff]

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