Saturday, September 10, 2016

Lumières, Camera, Action!

Spoiler alert: There's nothing to spoil with regards to one of the first short films ever made. That's because this brief 1895 snapshot simply shows workers exiting the Lumière Company factory in Lyon, France.

The Lumière brothers, Louis and Auguste, shot a total of 1,422 micro-shorts and remarkably, almost all were preserved. A portion of those, 98, make up the special tribute documentary Lumière!, which premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and has been touring to various international festivals since then. Next stop: Toronto, Sunday September 11th.

This movie won't get the attention of others this first weekend in Toronto, a frame traditionally now dominated by Tinseltown. However, all those big Hollywood flicks track back to the French brothers' pioneering efforts, as Cannes artistic director and Lumière Institute co-founder Thierry Frémaux put it last fall while showing the film in Mexico:

“To forget the Lumière brothers during that past 80 years is like forgetting Victor Hugo in French literature. How can you forget one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema? [Louis] Lumière is the last inventor, but the first director. He is the end of the chain of invention and the beginning of the chain of creation.”

Frémaux, per usual, will be at the TIFF Lightbox Sunday to offer running commentary for the shorts, broken into 11 themed chapters. And the best part about this particular screening, with many veteran Toronto patrons grumbling about the festival's new surge-pricing scale: it's free.

[TIFF#16: Lumière!]

Previously on FilmStew:
The First Film Begins Its Trek to America
George Méliès Had an Older Brother

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