Sunday, July 19, 2015

The First Film Begins Its Trek to America

If it comes to pass, this will be a most unique 125th anniversary screening. In November, British documentary filmmaker David Wilkinson is hoping to show The First Film in New York City, where the film's subject - Louis Le Prince - was scheduled to appear in 1890.

However, Le Prince, a French filmmaker and inventor living in Leeds who created the world's first movie and moviemaking technology in 1888, disappeared under mysterious circumstances before the premiere event, never to be seen again. It's all part of what is already looming as the year during which the world fully rediscovers the legacy of Le Prince, obscured in the history books by Thomas Edison and the Lumiere brothers.

The latest wave of publicity for Wilkinson's documentary came last month in the UK, with reports by the BBC, the Daily Telegraph and Daily Express. This weekend, it was the turn of CBS This Morning reporter Jonathan Vigliotti.

The First Film had its gala premiere at the beginning of the year, in Leeds. It is showing around England this summer, but symbolically, the anniversary screening in NYC for what would have been Le Prince's coming out party is the one that is going to resonate. From Wilkinson's Facebook feed this weekend:

The first film may have been shot in the UK but it was the Americans, more so than even the French, who saw its potential and developed [the medium] into a viable industry. Therefore, it is very pleasing for us that the giant American broadcaster CBS is running a feature on our film and the Louis Le Prince story this very day. Maybe our dream of playing The First Film at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in New York this November will happen.

The Mansion, located in Harlem, is even more historic. In 1776, for example, George Washington used it for several fall months as his headquarters.

[Louis Le Prince]


  1. Thank you very much for the mention.

    The clip you have was never used for the film. You might want to see the trailer which is made up from clips in the final film.

    David Nicholas Wilkinson