Girona mini-diary no. 2

Hmm, this smartphone idea isn´t working too well… No matter, the hotel PC can come to the rescue. So here are some quick notes on today´s proceedings at the Origins of News in Early Cinema seminar in Girona. I´ll list each speaker, and summarise what they said.

Rafael F. Tranche (Universidad Complutense de Madrid) Atracciones, actualidad y noticiarios: la información como espectáculo – keynote address on newsreels in general, noting how they were a means to bring together pre-existing genres into one flexible format.

The Public Wanted News: Programming the Biograph, 1896-1908. Paul Spehr – handsomely illustrated talk on the Biograph’s news operations and how what they did is best understood by knowing about the newspaper practice they worked alongside.

L’actualitat al catàleg Pathé (1897-1908). Daniel Pitarch – current affairs films in their catalogues, with the confusion of categories (where to put news?) brightly illustrated with coloured graphs.

La imatge tòpica d’Espanya als films de Pathé i Gaumont. M. Magdalena Brotons i Capó – clichéd images of Spain in early films. So many Carmens.

Creating an event out of nothing happening. An exploration of the category event through tourist imagery of the Zuiderzee region (The Netherlands), 1874-1914. Sarah Dellmann – the challenge of making a non-event an attraction.

Before the speech, then the image: the comment of the nonfiction film in Italy. Luca Mazzei – lots of interesting evidence from Italian books and journals on the evidence for how non-fiction films were received by audiences.

Stephen Bottomore Filming and ‘Faking’ a News Event – The
Coronation of Edward VII (1902) – Keynote paper on Charles Urban and Georges Méliès´celebrated ´preconstruction´of King Edward VII´s coronation, produced before the event took place.

Actualidad reconstruida y reconstrucción de la actualidad. El caso de “Asesinato y entierro de Canalejas”. Begoña Soto y Encarni Rus – I didn´t quite pick up on the story of this piece of 1912 archival film that now only existed in a contested 1957 version, but it occasioned much debate among the Spanish.

Actualitats reconstruïdes: del museu del cera als fake. El cas de l’erupció volcànica del Mont Pelée (Georges Méliès, 1902) com a punt de confluència. Marta Sureda – Georges Méliès again, recreating the volcanic eruption at Martinique, influenced by wax museums, dioramas and journal illustrations.

What’s in a name? The Russo-Japanese/Japanese-Russian War. Dafna Ruppin – a good paper on Dutch responses to the Russo-Japanese War film – or should be that Japanese-Russo? Interesting thoughts about the power of words over images.

El cinema d’animació dels primers temps i la reconstrucció de l’actualitat: el cas de l’enfonsament del Lusitània. Núria Nadal – Winsor McCay´s animation film about the sinking of the Lusitania in World War One still has the power to shock.

Presentation of the book-DVD Segundo de Chomón 1903-1912. The
fantasy film and the book Segundo de Chomón. El cinema de la fascinació by Esteve Riambau, Filmoteca de Catalunya, and Joan M. Minguet, writer. – The excellent DVD has already been covered by the Bioscope; a review of the book will follow soon

OK, that´s enough for today. So much talk of fakes in actuality films when such reconstructions were really doing no more than a line-drawn illustration in a newspaper might do as opposed to a photograph. The second and final day´s report will follow tomorrow.

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