THE FIRST FILMS WHICH WERE SHOT ON THE BALKANS (1896 – 1900)
Keywords:history of early cinema, travelling cinemas, first cinema screenings, first cinematographic shoots, Balkan peninsula, scientific films, ethnographic films, newsreels, bioscope
The general history of early filmmaking on the Balkans is little known in the countries on the peninsula itself as well as in the West. Even prestigious publications such as ‘Encyclopaedia of Early Cinema’ (compiled by Richard Abel) abound in debatable information in that particular field. The reasons thereof are multiple: the language diversity which is characteristic for the region; the hermeticism of research that remains restricted within the frameworks of national cinematic historiographies; the scarce information offered in the local print media issued at regular intervals of time at end-19th century. Over recent years, though, some publications came out, providing hitherto unknown facts about the early years of cinematography on the Balkans, including data that endorse the beginning of film shoots on these territories, undertaken mostly by foreign cinematographers. In parallel to that, the Internet provides a much wider access to databases of libraries, archives and specialised websites. The current publication consolidates the facts that are otherwise available at widely dispersed sources; presents some newfound information that is relevant to the topic; analyses the data so as to render the information pertinent not only the experts in the field but to a larger reading audience (including university undergraduates).
The current article constitutes a follow-up of a text which was published in the first issue of this journal. The present second part focuses on the period between 1898 and 1900. Films from different genres are presented – such as ‘geographical’ films which highlight the nature of the Adriatic region and the landmarks in some of the larger cities; scientific (related to medical research); newsreels which represented a panegyric coverage of the monarchies; as well as the probably one and only ethnographic film ‘A Bulgarian Holiday’.