THE FIRST MOVIES SHOT ON THE BALKANS (1896–1900)
Keywords:history of early cinema, traveling cinemas, first movie screenings, first movie shootings, the Balkan peninsula, movie advertisements in printed mass media, cinema chronicles, bioscope
The overall history of early cinema on the Balkans is scarcely known both in the particular countries in the peninsula and in the West. Even prestigious publications such as “The Encyclopedia of Early Cinema” (edited by Richard Abel) abound in unreliable information on this topic. The reasons thereof are plenty: language diversity which is characteristic for the region; the hermetic nature of studies which remain limited within the national historiographies of cinema; the scarce information offered by the local printed mass media at the end of the 19-th century. Over the last decade, though, a number of publications appeared, making available some hitherto unknown data on the early ears of cinematography on the Balkans, including some who testify to the launching of movie shooting in that region by foreign moviemakers exclusively. The author of the present article has personally discovered a newspaper notification which unquestionably testifies to the fact that the expository documentary “The Port of Varna” (1896) is not only the first expository documentary movie shot in Bulgaria but also the earliest (that we know of) on the entire Balkan peninsula. Meanwhile, with the help of the Internet we have a much greater variety of options for access to databases in libraries, archives and specialized websites. The current publication brings together the available facts that are otherwise hugely dispersed in numerous sources; it announces newly-discovered information relevant to the topic; analyses the data and renders them comprehensible not only to the experts in this field but also to the broader audience (including that of undergraduate students).