2008 – The Year of Colour

Kinemacolor poster

A happy new year to one and all!

2007 was a productive year for The Bioscope, from small beginnings, and I hope that the coming year will see the service continue to gow and for the archive of useful content to build up. In 2008 I’ll be continuing to provide news on events, festivals, conferences, screenings, DVD releases and online resources for early and silent cinema. The Library of freely-available digitised documents will continue to grow (there is quite a backlog of titles to be added in due course), and I hope to add new features and maybe indulge in a redesign somewhere along the line.

However, the major theme running through 2008 will be colour cinematography in the silent era. 2008 sees the centenary of the first public exhibition of Kinemacolor, the world’s first natural colour motion picture system. Pedants may say that the centenary of Kinemacolor might have been 1906/2006 (when it was patented), 1907/2007 (when it was exhibited in a preliminary form to an audience of film professionals) or 1909/2009 (when it was first called Kinemacolor and was first exhibited to a paying public). But 1 May 1908 was when the system was first shown to a startled general audience at Urbanora House, Wardour Street, London – and that’s good enough for me.

So throughout 2008 there will be posts on colour cinematography to 1930. Not just Kinemacolor (though there will be plenty on that), but the experimental efforts that preceded it, hand-painted and stencil colour, tinting and toning, Biocolour, Cinechrome, Chronochrome, Kodachrome, Prizmacolor, Technicolor, Polychromide, Kodacolor, and more. There will be potted histories, archive documents, illustrations and (if I can find them) film clips. It’ll all build up into a year-long series to cherish and keep.

Lastly, here’s a checklist of some of the silent film events taking place over the year (all of which and more will be recorded in the Calendar section):

14-18 January – The Bioscope Festival of Lost Films
17-20 January – Slapstick 2008 silent comedy festival, Bristol
24-27 January – StummFilmMusikTage festival, Erlangen
9 February – Border Crossings: Rethinking Early Cinema conference, Berkeley
22-23 February – Kansas Silent Film Festival
13-16 March – Cinefest, Syracuse
26-28 March – City in Film conference, Liverpool
3-6 April – British Silent Cinema Festival, Nottingham
11-13 June – The Fifth International Women and the Silent Screen conference, Stockholm
17-21 June – Domitor conference, Peripheral Early Cinemas, Perpignan and Girona
28 June-5 July – Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna
11-13 July – San Francisco Silent Film Festival
8-10 August – Capitolfest, New York
28 August-1 September – Cinecon festival, Hollywood
25-28 September – Cinesation festival
4-11 October – Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone

Keep reading, keep commenting, and tell your friends.

5 responses

  1. Luke: Happy new year to you. I’m looking forward to the year of color. I just finished watching “Discovering Cinema”, a Christmas present. It gives a nice overview of the quest for color and includes a complete Kinemacolor movie depicting the dedication of the campanile in Venice.

    Thanks for all the wonderful information you have shared with the world.

    Joe Thompson ;0)

  2. Thanks Joe. I didn’t know about “Discovering Cinema” as a US release; in the UK it is two DVDs, In Search of Sound and A Dream of Colour, French commentary with English subtitles, distributed by Stephen Herbert’s The Projection Box. I contributed a few images.

  3. Luke: One more thing I thought of while I was on the bus: Why do you suppose Urban called it “Kinemacolor” instead of “Kinemacolour”? Was he showing his American roots?

    Joe Thompson ;0)

  4. I think it was because Urban was most interested in the American market. However, there must have been a touch of his American roots about it too, because he called the company that produced Kinemacolor in Britain the Natural Color Kinematograph Company. Colour systems that spell colour with a u are quite rare – Biocolour (created by Urban’s rival, William Friese-Greene) is one.

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