Birmingham’s Flatpack Film Festival showcases Paris Exposition film collection from 1900

by Maryann O'Connor on 30/01/2014

flatpack film

Fans of cinema history are in for a very rare treat at this year’s eight annual Flatpack Film Festival in Birmingham (20-30 March 2014), for they will be able to see a restoration of the collection of films shown at the 1900 Paris Exposition, coming to the UK for the first time.

See Sarah Bernhardt duelling in Hamlet, Gabrielle Réjane doing the can-can and Cléo de Mérode (pictured) in vibrant hand-tinted colour, some of the films complete with their original synchronised gramophone music, at the Phono-Cinema-Théâtre event on 23rd March at Birmingham’s Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

If you are in any doubt as to how special this occasion is, you should refer to the esteemed Neil Brand’s 2012 article for Silent London on these films:

‘Among the gorgeously designed pavilions on the banks of the Seine at the Paris Exposition of 1900 was a small, ornate theatre called the Phono-Cinéma-Théatre, which contained a screen and a small musical ensemble.  Across the screen moved the greatest actors, dancers, mimes and clowns of the day – they spoke, they sang, they moved to music provided by musicians playing live and they were often in exquisite, hand-tinted colour. Five years after the birth of cinema, film and recorded sound brought France’s finest theatrical artists to mechanical life for the lucky generation of fin-de-siècle Paris.’

Sounds like we all have the opportunity to time travel to turn of 20th century Paris, just like Owen Wilson’s character in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. I’ve probably cheapened the whole thing by mentioning Owen Wilson, haven’t I? Sorry ’bout that.

You can find Neil Brand’s article in full here

Other highlights of the film festival will be The Great Flood [directed by Bill Morrison] about the impact of the Mississippi floods of 1927 and This World Made Itself by LA-based artist and performer Miwa Matreyek. This World Made Itself recently had its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival, where it was described as ‘a fantastical journey through the history of the earth—from the universe’s epic beginnings to the complex world of humans’.

The full Flatpack Film Festival programme is due to be announced in mid-February but you can already book tickets for the main events here on the film festival website.

Blurb on the Flatpack Film Festival:

‘An eleven day event that has carved out a unique place in the UK’s film scene, Flatpack Film Festival will stir together an eye-popping line-up of new features, shorts and special guests, as well as providing an alternative route-map to Birmingham with walking tours, installations and pop-up screenings across the city. The programme is known for using an all-encompassing definition of ‘film’, and the 2014 festival will be no exception.’


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo Hutchinson January 30, 2014 at 13:02

thanks for the info


Pamela January 30, 2014 at 14:14

This really is a fantastic spectacle – highly recommended!


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