Early Cinema in the Balkans and the Near East: Beginnings to Interwar Period
Athens, Greece: 5-7 June, 2015
(Listed Alphabetically by Author)
1. Manolis Arkolakis (Hellenic Open University), “Living Pictures and the Formation of Modern Life in Athens”
The first film screening in Athens took place on November 28th 1896 in a hall located next to the first department store near the theatrical area of the city. Although it is obvious that the target group of the new spectacle was the urban middle class strata, an important question arises as to whether or not the Athenian audience was ready to understand and accept the significance of the new form of entertainment. Earlier that year, on the occasion of the first modern Olympic Games, a special building was constructed for panorama shows. The invention of the cinema was the culmination of a period of social, cultural, and technological changes in the way of exhibition of new spectacles as part of the formation of modern life. According to Charles Musser, cinema is a practice (screen practice) which has a longer history. It appeared as the continuation of screen projections which included the magic lantern, panorama, diorama and slides. Similarly, Jonathan Crary argues that during the first decades of the 19th century, a significant rupture with the classical models of observation occurred in which the invention of photography played a decisive role in parallel with the reconstruction of knowledge and social practice.
This paper will examine how the modern social subject in Athens is shaped by presentations of illustrated lectures and screen exhibitions during the last decade of the 19th century, up to the local impact of the International Exposition of 1900 in Paris. It will show the degree of reflection and convergence between early cinema and modernity in a city which at the turn of the century was in a process of rapid growth and transformation as a result of industrialization and social mobility. Finally, it will indicate how cinema became part of a particular urban leisure culture with its own distinct features.
2. Canan Balan (İstanbul Şehir University), “Islam, Death and Early Cinema: Film as Metaphor in the Teachings of Said Nursi”
The Westernization paradigm has long been dominant in the understanding of cultural appropriation of early cinema, in particular in the countries that are under the influence of Islam. By assuming Muslims to be hostile towards scientific and technological progress, this approach overlooks different theological interpretations and ways of life in these countries. This paper, however, does not deny the tendency of religion to interfere with cultural reception. On the contrary, it will engage with the ways in which the teachings of a major Kurdish religious leader, Said Nursi, were inspired by the cinema at the turn of the twentieth century. As the founder of a worldwide transnational Islamic movement, known as the Nur movement, Said Nursi was not always appreciative of cinema. Regardless of his ambiguous judgments about the movies, it was obvious that his interpretations of the Kuran were informed by his own experiences of cinema.
In this paper, I will mainly be focusing on his reflections on the connections of cinema to death and the landscape. The relationship between death and cinema (or as he termed “God’s cinema”) is embodied, perhaps most visibly, in his visits to graveyards, where he saw visions that he found to be “just like cinema”. Besides the visual similarities, Nursi links his visions at the graveyard temporally to the cinema, where we can see “the past of an already past” in the present moment. Cinema for Nursi is also a metaphor for landscapes of contemplation, which he calls the “Divine cinema”. The “Divine cinema” shows the universe moving in “attractions” of God, in an ever state of euphoria. According to Nursi the landscapes in cinema change rapidly as a reflection of the universe.
3. Henriette Bornkamm (University of Zurich), “The Orient in Early Egyptian Film: Self-Image and Perception by Others, 1920s-1940s”
The question of German Exile Cinema during the 1930s and 1940s has been widely debated in the field of film studies, with scholars such as Anton Kaes or Jan-Christopher Horak discussing the means of authorship in exile or analysing the working conditions of German filmmakers in other European countries and the US. However, these works have not taken into account that Germans and other Europeans also escaped into other countries, where cinema was less developed. It is almost forgotten, that Europeans were playing an important role in the Egyptian film industry, while Egyptian filmmakers went to Germany and France, aiming to study filmmaking. After returning to Egypt, these men and the Europeans created many of the films that prepared the ground for the “Golden Age” of Egyptian cinema. My paper addresses the issue of transnational European-Egyptian collaboration in filmmaking during the interwar period with special attention to films that were screened in Egypt and Europe. Surprisingly they were not as successful in Europe, although “Egyptomania” was spreading at that time, promoted by the discoveries of the tomb of Tutankhamun and the bust of Nefertiti. One of the main questions will focus on the different modes of reception in Egypt and Europe and examine why many of these films are part of the Egyptian film canon, while in Europe the period of Egyptian-German collaboration has almost fallen into oblivion.
4. Peyami Çelikcan (İstanbul Şehir University), “Cinematic Views of the Ottoman World by European Cinematographers”
At the beginning of the 20th century, European cinematographers traveled around the Ottoman territories with their cinematographs filming. They shot many non-fiction films that featured cityscapes, landscapes as well as the social, religious, and entertainment life of that period. How those cinematographers viewed the Ottoman lands and how they represented the Ottomans in their films will be the main questions of this paper. European perceptions of the East and the Ottoman Empire were mostly shaped by travel books and paintings, which presented easterners as exotic, barbarian and ugly. The representation of easterners in books and paintings was stereotypical. As Edward Said stated, by essentializing the East as static and undeveloped, the West fabricated Oriental culture.
European cinematographers filmed in the entire Ottoman territory, namely the Balkans, İstanbul, Anatolia, the Arab peninsula and, finally, north Africa. A selection of such films screened in İstanbul as part of the “Cinematic Landscapes of the Ottoman World” programme in 2014. In this programme 16 films made by European cinematographers between 1902 and 1925 were screened. Fourteen were non-fiction and only 2 were fictional. This presentation will examine whether these selected films fabricate Oriental and/or Ottoman culture based on Western perspectives. Views of Easterners in fiction and non-fiction films will be also compared.
5. Özde Çeliktemel-Thomen (University College London), “Understanding Early Cinema Regulations in the Ottoman Empire, 1896-1909”
How did the Hamidian regime (1876-1909) and the local authorities regulate films? What was the main aim of controlling cinematic space and film content? Was there any lack of regulation, if so why? Addressing these and similar questions, I focus on certain historical events that determined the early cinema regulations of what films were available and how they were circulated in the Ottoman Empire. I explore the pre-existing regulations of printed and visual media that helped to shape the exhibition, distribution and production of cinema. I trace how Sultan Abdülhamid II (1842-1918) and his officials regulated the use of cinematic devices and their interest in utilising and endorsing this new technology.
I make extensive use of archival sources from the Prime Ministry Ottoman Archives as I mostly focus on Istanbul. Yet other urban centres, such as Salonika and Izmir, are also included when the available sources allow. I examine safety, moral, social and political concerns about cinematic spaces (be they theatres, pubs, schools, coffeehouses or cinema houses). In the process, I shed light on the licensing of cinema houses, fire codes and rules about the use of cinematic devices. I also discuss the regulation of the so called ‘immoral’, ‘obscene’, and ‘inappropriate’ content in films.
I suggest that the Hamidian state, unprepared for the challenges of cinema, firstly dealt with the legal issues on an ad hoc basis and used arbitrary practices depending on the institution and officer in charge. Despite the prohibition model described by current cinema scholarship, I claim that early cinema regulations were shaped as ongoing interrelations practiced by the sultan and his officials. The Hamidian regime eventually reflected their aims to blend Ottoman and Islamist notions within a progressive tone while benefiting from cinema.
6. Christina Chronopoulou (Independent Scholar), “Workers’ Profiles in the Theater and Cinema of Interwar Greece”
The appearance of worker- and proletarian-status characters in the theatre and cinema of the interwar period in Greece was a unique coincidence. Despite the general preference for ‘easier’ spectacles and plays, there are some instances in theatre and cinema that show commitment to the raising of the workers’ class consciousness, especially after the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the establishment of the Communist Party in Greece. Working-class life was highlighted in the workers’ drama when, in the early 20th century, Greek theatre made a shift, reflecting contemporary social concerns. Dramas produced during the interwar period represent the working-class hero as the most dynamic and ideologically confident. Along the same ideological line we note the first Greek silent movie concerning the life of proletarians. Both in the theatre and cinema the characters are inspired by a revolutionary mood; they are organized in trade unions; and they criticize and oppose the political system. Representative cases of militant artistic expression in workers’ drama are the play Red Labour Day (1921) by Georgios Simiriotis and the film Social Decay (1932) by Stelios Tatasopoulos, both produced at a time when Greek society was in disarray after the trauma of the Balkan wars and the Asia Minor disaster, following WWI.
7. Nevena Dakovic (University of Arts, Belgrade), “Stanislav Krakov: The Great War Between Novel and Film”
The aim of this paper is to offer a comparative analysis of the writings and films of Stanislav Krakov about the Great War. These include the novel Krila (1922), a specific testimony about Thessaloniki’s front; his autobiography Zivot coveka na Balkanu (1997); and the film Calvary of Serbia (both versions: silent film Za cast otadzbine  and Calvary of Serbia ). The comparison will focus on the relations between literary text and film text (comments and intertitles), analyzing the narrative structures (particularly the use of cinematic cuts and film editing in the novels) in both kind of texts and the construed versions and models of narratives about the past, i.e. of the Great War as the intersection of history, collective memory and personal remembrance. I will conclude with some reflections on the interactions between the literary avant garde and the “system” of film.
8. Çağan Duran (İstanbul Şehir University), “The Role of White Russians in Early Turkish Cinema”
The White Russian immigration to Istanbul during the years of 1919–1920 created a splendid change in the perception of everyday life and its practices by the dwellers of Istanbul. The change ranges from entertainment to music, to restaurant and café culture, to spatial usage, and organization of the city. In order to understand White Russian influence on Istanbul’s urban life it is crucial to look at gender because White Russian women had a role in challenging established norms and practices by their appearance in social life. In Istanbul White Russian women would be encountered as waitresses in restaurants, as performance artists in cabarets, or as actresses in films and musicals. They were regarded as immoral by the majority of the society, since their way of living and active participation in social life were outside the prevailing norms. Turkish cinema during and after the years of White Russian immigration to Istanbul produced movies such as Binnaz (1919), Mürebbiye (1919), Leblebici Horhor (1923), and Sözde Kızlar (1924), which were casting White Russian women. For instance, Mürebbiye (1919), which is considered as the first banned Turkish movie, casts White Russian immigrant Madam Kalitea as the main character performing a vamp and a seductive tutor. The reason for the ban was declared to be the immoral theme of the movie.
Stemming from the public role of White Russian women in the social life of Istanbul and their ambivalent perception by society, my research will focus on tracing the parallel reflections on the perception of women in early Turkish cinema. Can we read early Turkish movies that cast White Russian actresses as having the same motivation in parallel with society’s ambivalent attitudes towards immigrant women? Is there a way to make a clearer analysis of those movies in terms of gender and its role on the perception of immigrants? What were the effects of White Russian immigration on early Turkish cinema? Starting from a gender analysis, can we trace more connections between White Russian immigration and early Turkish cinema?
9. Nezih Erdoğan (İstanbul Şehir University), “What Went Wrong: Accidents, Failures and Unpleasantries of Early Cinema in İstanbul”
The Istanbul press hailed the advent of cinematograph as a most recent form of entertainment which promised a variety of pleasures. Indeed, the first spectators were, by and large, urban pleasure seekers. But did they always find what they sought? In discussing the concept of "the integral accident", Paul Virilio argued that "technology cannot exist without the potential for accidents. For example (...) the invention of the locomotive also contained the invention of derailment." Astonishment, exhaustion, as well as fires, scratched films, poor screening conditions, are just some examples which await to be written into the history of exhibition, movie-going and film-viewing. My paper aims to give an account of how the invention of cinema brought with it not only a variety of pleasures, possibilities in education, science and commerce, but also its own unpleasantries, accidents and failures.
10. Andrei Gadalean (University of St Andrews), “Let’s Get Civilised: Sexuality and Film Censorship in Interwar Romania”
Once film became a cultural form in its own right, particularly after the shift to narrative long-form cinema in the late 1910s and throughout the 1920s, discourses on the regulation of film content became more vivid and took up the scene in an often virulent manner. These peaked with the infamous American Hays Code of 1930 that would change not just Hollywood cinema, but its reception across the world, as well as prompt similar attitudes toward film in other industries. This paper will try to trace the impact these global changes in film regulation and censorship had on Romanian cinema during the commonly perceived as artistically liberated and creatively flourishing interwar period.
In my paper I will look at the various critical reactions to film censorship attributed to Romanian authors, most of which seemingly supported censorship. I will furthermore explore the degree to which these discourses were filtered by influences from other European film industries, as well as examine the extent to which the content of the films imported and shown in Romania at the time, and the audience responses to them, either mirrored or discredited the critical arguments regarding censorship, with a particular focus on representations of sex and sexuality. I will finally briefly look at how Romania's case compares to other countries in the region, in order to determine whether a unified view on the censorship of cinematic sex was possible in the Balkans in the 1930s.
11. Christos A. Goussios (Aristotle University, Thessaloniki) WORKSHOP on Sound and Music for Early Cinema
This workshop develops different approaches of the coexistence of sound, music, and silent films and display possible ‘conversations’ between them. It focuses on the space-time paradox and provides some solutions through musical and sound storytelling (case studies: the Manaki films and short films from EYE Film Institute, Netherlands). It explores the expression of film student’s musicality in an attempt to converse with the Balkan and Middle Eastern past as an example on the spot.
12. Ana Grgić (University of St Andrews), “Haptical Vision: Balkan Legacies on the Perception of Moving Images and the Crisis of Modernity”
In the Balkans, the intermingling, contamination and fusion of artistic traditions from both East and West have resulted in a unique regional visual culture, to which the arrival of moving images added another means of expression in the late nineteenth century. The legacy of Byzantine and Ottoman (Islamic) art and culture can be seen in architecture, fresco painting, decorative and minor arts (such as textile weaving, folk costumes, and jewellery) in the Balkans, which privilege haptic perception, in contrast to optic vision predominant in Western art and theory since the Renaissance. Several philosophers (Merleau-Ponty, Deleuze), art historians (Riegl) and film theoreticians (Sobchack, Marks) have contributed to an understanding of embodied spectatorship and the inherent tactility of vision. In this paper, I examine how the development of artistic practices and the production of artefacts belonging to visual culture and cultural memory in the Balkans share haptic qualities, similar to those described by Alois Riegl, inviting a caressing gaze in their contemplation. One of the first films made in the Balkans by the Vlach/Aromanian Manakia brothers, whose complex history attests to the multi-faceted and multi-cultural character of the region, is of their grandmother spinning wool and weaving. Thus, “the anthropological adhesion” (Didi-Huberman) and “Nachleben” (Aby Warburg) – afterlife of the surviving image (that is, the visual legacy of Balkan art) – emerges at the moment of crisis in a particular historical period coinciding with the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the advent of modernity.
13. Andreas Guidi (Humboldt University), “From ‘Miserable Levantine Village’ to ‘Splendour of Italic Civilization:’ Italian Cinema(s) and Fascist Propaganda in Rhodes, 1920-1940”
The beginnings of cinema in Rhodes date back to the Italian occupation after the Ottoman rule ending in 1912. In the context of semi-colonial rule and fascist propaganda, cinema – considered by Mussolini the “most powerful weapon” to educate the masses and shape their imaginary – acquired a crucial role in the representation and legitimisation of power, aspiring to link an island geographically cut off from Italy with the latter’s society and ideology. The first aspect I approach is the use of the movie camera for documentaries set in Rhodes produced from 1925 by the State-funded Istituto Luce, contextualised through archival sources on their realisation. These twelve productions displayed local history, culture and population and targeted Italian audiences. Their scenes, settings and subjects were chosen carefully in order to create a deformation of historical time that, merged with the portrayal of the natural beauty of Rhodes, underlined the mission civilisatrice of Fascism in the Mediterranean and the goals it achieved vis-à-vis the previous “eastern” backwardness in order to attract investors and tourists. I question this “inventing tradition” through the use of archival sources which convey a more complex and less harmonic relationship between Fascism and the legacy of Ottoman past resulting in the island’s historical landscape and local religious communities (Orthodox, Muslim, Jews, Catholics). Another aspect dealt with is the social role of movie theaters active in Rhodes from 1920, where both fiction films and weekly newsreels were projected. Archival sources and contemporary local press shed light on the practice of attending screenings. Leaning on Bourdieu’s field theory I describe cinema-going in Rhodes as a matter of social distinction, arguing that different theatres, movies and entry prices represented a correlation between taste and social background of the diverse spectators of Rhodes that overrode confessional community borders.
14. Dina Iordanova (University of St Andrews), “How Do We Tell the Story? Alternative Geographies, Entangled Histories, Triumphant Nationalisms”
Similar to other histories of representation and artistic expression, the story of early Balkan cinema has been repeatedly readjusted, over the decades, to reflect the mutating realities of the region. Once we become aware of the ever-changing narrative frameworks, one starts wondering if it is at all possible to tell a story independently of a prevalent geopolitical framework? How conscious can we be about factors such as ideology, power, and political aspirations?My talk will focus on matters of regionalism and transnationalism: two approaches that I have explicitly argued for over the years. The Balkan region from the period of early cinema is particularly suitable to continue the exploration. It is marked by an abundance of dynamically changing narratives: bold empires break up and new nation states emerge, boundaries fluctuate and power structures evolve, population movements shatter and subtle displacements persist. Innumerable linguistic intricacies complicate and untold hushed personal histories obscure the chance to approach things unambiguously. In addition, the flux of exotic representations further complicates matters in a context where the political imperative is to suspending or else refashioning the oriental legacy in the name of fitting into the normative European West. In my talk, I will look at the evolution of these issues from today's point of view, and try to put forward some lasting principles for telling a Balkan story that keep the shifting geopolitical realities into check.
15. Mary Kapi (Aristotle University, Thessaloniki), “The Greek-Turkish Film O Kakos Dromos (1933): An Example of a Failed Transition from Theater to Cinema”
The aim of this paper is to explore the process that led the two greatest Greek theatre stars of the period, Kyveli and Marika Kotopouli, to participate along with their common troupe in the Greco-Turkish film O Kakos Dromos (The Wrong Road), which was filmed in Istanbul in 1933 under the direction of Muhsin Ertuğrul. From this film only a few minutes of footage have survived. Nevertheless, the whole project can be examined as a case study showing how theatre actors (or actresses) tried to adapt themselves to the new entertainment industry of cinema in Southeastern Europe. I will try to shed light on this adaptation strategy by examining together the changes in the entertainment market along with the wider artistic and social conditions and the career history of the two leading actresses. As the entertainment market was increasingly dominated by cinema, the theatre actors tried to establish themselves in this new field. In our case, the two leading theatre stars, Kyveli and Marika Kotopouli, attempted to transfer their artistic methods and their stylistic characteristics to cinema, not realizing the requirements of the latter’s new codes.
16. Petar Kardjilov (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences), “The First Filmings in the Balkans, 1896-1900”
The history of early cinema in the Balkans is little known in the West. Even authoritative publications, such as the Encyclopedia of Early Cinema edited by Richard Abel, are full of false information on the topic. The reasons are many: the language barriers; the specific character of the region or the narrow nature of national studies; the little information offered by the periodicals during the 19th century; etc. During the last decades several studies have been published on early cinema in the Balkans, including on the first attempts of filming or on the activity of foreign filmmakers. The internet has broadened the possibilities of information.
The goal of this presentation is to bring together numerous facts available but scattered throughout numerous sources as well as to introduce new information not only for the benefit of experts in the field but also for a wider audience.
17. Dilek Kaya and Sencer Yeralan (Yaşar University), “Cinema in Multiethnic Kordon (Quay) in the Early Twentieth Century: Disseminating Research Results through Digital Media”
We aim to reconstruct the lost history of the early movie theatres in İzmir (Smyrna) from 1908 to the Great Fire of 1922. During this period the city was home to a rich variety of ethnic and religious communities. The first movie theatres, mostly owned by citizens of Greek origin, opened in the 1900s in the multiethnic Quay (today Kordon) area. This district was the center of Levantine socio-cultural activities with cafes, social clubs, theatres, cinemas, hotels, and consulates. Most of these movie theatres were completely lost to the Great Fire of 1922. The ones that partially survived were “Turkified” during the establishment of the Turkish Republic. Referring to the local newspapers of the period, old city maps, published testimonies and memories, and online platforms (such as levantineheritage.com), we attempt to reconstruct the cinema exhibition scene and the culture of cinema going in the Quay area. Besides academic exposure, we plan to disseminate our findings through social digital media using a location-aware mobile application. We consider such interactive experience of the cinema heritage of the Quay through these technologies to complement our academic research work. This application may be used by the general public, as well as schools and tourist tours that frequent the area. Overall, the paper intends to contribute to early cinema studies on Turkey and to the social and cultural history and memory of İzmir through interdisciplinary collaboration.
18. Maria Komninos (Greek Film Archive & National and Kapodistrian University, Athens) “Pioneers, Dreamers, Entrepreneurs in the Silent Era of Greek Cinema”
19. Panayiota Konstantinakou (Independent Scholar), “Early Twentieth-Century Greek Tableaux Vivants: Staging the Nation”
The paper will focus on the scenography of the tableaux vivants, a distinct performative genre that stands between the theatre and the visual arts. More specifically, it will examine in detail the ideology and aesthetics of an interesting corpus of their long history. Although tableaux vivants became extremely popular in Europe in the 19th century, in Greece the first substantial specimens were produced only in the early decades of the 20th century, in the midst of the Balkan Wars and after the country’s engagement in WWI. Produced in the context of amateurism (the performers and scenographers being members of the upper class) and enacting pieces of classical, Byzantine and contemporary Greek painting, sculpture and architecture, tableaux vivants in 1910s Greece can be seen as a manifestation of the ruling classes’ attempt to establish a continuous national narrative from antiquity to the present.
20. Christina Kouppi (University of Ioannina) “The Origins of Film in Cyprus: The Case of Three Films During the British Administration”
Cinema makes its debut in Cyprus in 1907 through imported British and French productions with great expansion taking place in the 1920s. Although limited, British film production on the island is indicative of the image that the British colonial administration wanted to present both to the public of the metropolis as well as to the Cypriots. At the end of the 1920s the silent film Cyprus was the first film shot in the island. It was screened in all major exhibition spaces accompanied by a highly propagandistic advertisement inviting the native population to learn about their island through the film. The film was re-edited and released the following year in the UK under the title Almost Arcady with a sound commentary. A third colonial-era film is Cyprus is an Island (1946), which, although outside the chronological limits of this conference, will be examined as it is the main colonial documentary on Cyprus. The three films depict images of the past, the traditional lifestyle and the outdated working methods as well as images of progress made since the island became a British colony. Equally interesting are the pictures omitted from the film, including the colonial administration, the Turkish Cypriot community, etc. In my presentation I examine the three films with emphasis on the changes in the view of the colonizers and the possible reasons for these changes, including political-ideological and filmographic.
21. Leonidas Liambeys (film producer), “Making the Documentary War & Peace in the Balkans”
War & Peace in the Balkans (Andreas Apostolidis/Rea Apostolides/Yuri Averof, 2014) is an one-hour documentary that explores the relevance of World War I for the Balkans today giving a multi-perspective reassessment of the war in the region. The documentary begins with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo on 28th June 1914. Documenting the collapse of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires, it reflects on the deeper causes of conflict and the radical changes that swept through the region in the first quarter of the 20th century. The film tells the stories of the men, women, and children caught up in these massive upheavals, exploring how and why their lives were transformed by the advent of nationalist movements and the outbreak of the war aiming to help diverse audiences connect with shared suffering and reflect on multiple interpretations of WWI. The geographical regions covered include: present-day Turkey, Slovenia, Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, FYROM, Romania, Croatia and Serbia. The filmmakers bring together rare archival material from multiple sources: the Dutch EYE and the national film archives of Slovenia, Greece, Bulgaria, France, Serbia, Albania, and FYROM with added material from the US Library of Congress, the Austrian Film Museum, the Imperial War Museum, and British Pathé.
Historians from across the region provide multiple perspectives to strengthen the film’s transnational relevance. Among them: Fikret Adenir (Sabanci University, Istanbul); Ayhan Aktar (Istanbul-Bilgi University); Edhem Eldem (Bogazici University, Istanbul); Ian Beckett (Canterbury University, UK); Christopher Clark (University of Cambridge); Christina Koulouri (Panteio University, Athens); Mark Mazower (Columbia University); Dubravka Stojanovic (Belgrade University, Serbia); Jay Winter (Yale University); and Eric Zucher (Leiden University).
22. Geli Mademli (University of Amsterdam), “The Map and the Territory: Archiving the History of Balkan Film”
Early cinema pioneers Jannakis and Milton Manakia have been widely acclaimed as the first cinematographers and directors in the Balkan Peninsula, who witnessed important events for the history of the region before the Second World War. Despite the international appreciation of their work, their archive of photographs and films has been extensively exploited as a tool in the narratives of state formation in the Balkans – and a variation of the dispute known as the “Macedonian question,” at different junctures in the 20th century.
The recent digitization of the archive (completed in 2013) reconfigures issues surrounding the spatiality of the artefacts, yet it maps a territory of situated knowledge. In the paper proposed, I will try to: describe in which manners the films by the Manakia brothers have been invariably misperceived due to multiple acts of archiving according to the dictation of national narratives of any side; illuminate the importance of the early technologies implemented by the directors; and focus on the study of objects, suggesting a trans-national perception of their work.
At the same time, I will attempt to prove how the case of this specific archive challenges diverse nuances of the concept of the archive in contemporary archival theory, which is dealt either as a generic term referring to the structure of systems of thought (Michel Foucault), as an inclusive metaphor for the modularity of human perception (Wolfgang Ernst), or as the elemental substructure of the globalised information society – particularly in the age of Big Data, where information units cannot be processed by the user, but are immediately (and only exploitable when) stored.
23. Andronika Martonova (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences), “Asia and Asian Cinema on the Bulgarian Screen”
The presence of the Far East in Bulgaria’s film and cultural environment (since the inception of cinema until 1939) is a very interesting research problem, though little investigated, complex, and difficult in nature. This proposed presentation aims at creating an overview on this topic. The issue provokes the following questions: what were Bulgarian viewers watching; what did they learn about Asia through the medium of film (both fiction and non-fiction); where did these films come from; were they Asian-made, or based on Asian themes; how did Bulgarian viewers interpret and/or perceive these foreign Eastern cultures; and what kinds of notions, stereotypes, and attitudes did these films provoke?
From the Bulgarian Renaissance period until the inception of cinema, Bulgaria learned a lot about the East (China, Japan, and India) primarily through written publication and with the invention of the cinematograph this information assumed visual form. With the development of film distribution throughout the country, as well as the establishment of the periodical film press, Bulgarian viewers learned increasingly more about Asia, through different points of view. Film magazines regularly published information on the state of the film industries in China, Japan, and India (including films, actors, film theatres, etc). Different types of films were available representing the Far East. The market was saturated with Western productions – films, which used exotic Asian themes. Here we need to mention the cult of Asian actors who had major Hollywood careers, such as Anna May Wong and Sessue Hayakawa. At the same time, Bulgaria saw a series of films created by both well- known and lesser-known Western cinematographers, who possibly spent time in Asia (one such film being the enigmatic drama The honor of a Korean man ), or co-productions between artists such as Hindi director and actor Himansu Ray and the German Frantz Osten in the late 1920s. Japan, however, had a particularly important place on film screens in Bulgaria, and this included Japanese-German co-productions. The greatest number of Asian films, shown in Bulgaria, were Japanese and this trend grew even stronger in the 1930s. They included: Crossroads (1928, Kinugasa Teinosuke), Namiko – Letzte Liebe (1935, Fritz Schultz with Michiko Tanaka), The Daughter of the Samurai (1936, Arnold Fanck and Mansaku Itami), and The Road to Peace in the Orient (1938, Suzuki Shigeyoshi).
The proposed paper is based on research work in the Bulgarian press (newspapers, film magazines), the Bulgarian Film Archive (catalogues), and in the Bulgarian State Archives (different documents from the Ministry of Culture). An added feature of this presentation will be a parallel tracing of Asian and Asian-themed films in the Serbian film environment, which resulted from my work in the Jugoslovenska Kinoteka archives in 2013.
24. Aleksandra Milovanović (University of Arts, Belgrade), “DVD Collections and Historical Memory: Renewal and Dissemination of History in New Media”
The concern of this paper is to map out the potential influence of new digital media (DVD, Blu-Ray, Internet, cable and specialized TV channels, etc.) on the renewal and dissemination of early movies connected with national history. The emergence of the DVD and Blu-Ray has transformed the ways in which films are distributed, consumed, archived and redistributed. Supplementary or bonus materials on DVDs and Blue-Rays expand the text of the original film by creating a range of fictional and non-fictional intertexts (photos, interviews, etc). In the case of early cinema and movies connected to national history bonus/supplementary materials tend to present the relationship between film and the historical record in four ways: contextualisation (providing historical context for the films they accompany); celebration (building up the relationship between film and national history); memorialisation (depicting the past, understood both as individual or collective memory); and evaluation (experts or scholars commenting on and elucidating the historical events being represented). The Yugoslav Cinematheque in Belgrade published and donated (with a national weekly magazine) a special DVD package named History of Serbia with nine films, each of which represents Serbian cultural treasures of major historical significance. The reason for the renewal, dissemination and (re)distribution of the masterpieces of early Serbian cinema was the centenary of Serbian cinema. This special DVD package has apparent educational function and allows new generations to construct their own relationships with the past and to be actively involved in interpreting and reinterpreting history. In this way, new media enhance the potential for renewing early movies and disseminating historical memory, so the new generations have their own chance to consider it in terms of their needs and experiences.
25. Bogdan Movileanu (Romanian Film Archive) “Old and Precious Early Romanian Cinema”
The paper focuses on two important short films in Romanian film history: Haplea (1924), the first Romanian animation still preserved, and Tara Motilor/The Land of Motzi (1939), the first Romanian film that received an award in Venice. Haplea is a character inspired by the comics drawn by Marin Iorda and written by Nicolae Batzaria, while the film is directed by Marin Iorda. Tara Motilor is inspired by the writings of Geo Bogza and shows a very isolated Romanian territory, which is also a very old gold mining site. It is directed by Paul Calinescu. Before Haplea, another Romanian animation film was produced, entitled Pacala in Luna/Pacala on the Moon (1920), but no copy has survived and only testimonies stand as evidence of its existence.
The two silent films are part of the European heritage and have an important historical value, because they depict historic times: Haplea contains a few Romanian words that no longer exist in the modern Romanian language, and Tara Motilor shows local traditions of the time, natural sites, and actual people working and doing every-day things, making it not only a documentary, but a window through time.
Romanian film history is presented in these two films with a surprising fresh approach, making it easy to watch and easy to understand. Even though technology and visual language have evolved, and for some modern viewers old films are not very impressive, I think that we have a special place in our hearts for these type of films, because they link us to the lives and the ways of thinking of people from almost one hundred years ago, when, as it was once written in “Morometii” (a Romanian novel), “time was very patient with people”.
26. Hamid Naficy (Northwestern University), “Theorizing the Artisanal Production Mode: The Case of Iranian Silent Cinema”
In this talk I identify and theorize the mode of production, import/export, distribution, exhibition, and consumption (shortened to mode of production) as a chief engine of the early Iranian cinema, which gradually became rationalized as it modernized. The epitome of both rational thinking and industrial rationalization in cinema is the classic American studio system, with its specialization of labor, central control, mass production, and standardization and variation of products. During the entire silent era, cinema’s production mode remained entirely artisanal, driven by multi-functional entrepreneurial commercial middlemen and émigré and sub-ethnic modernists who, supported by the court and the elite, imported films, film equipment, and other Western technologies. Unlike the Hollywood system, the model of Iranian cinema was not the Ford automobile factory where Taylorist assembly-line operations ruled, but the traditional local artisanal workshops where master craftsmen and apprentices thrived. The film “industry” was really a cottage industry, limited to importing and exhibiting foreign films and to producing and exhibiting locally made actualities and newsreels in an artisanal and improvisatory fashion. The talk covers the characteristics of this artisanal mode and its textual manifestations.
27. Nick Poulakis (National and Kapodistrian University, Athens), “Music in Early Greek Cinema: The Case of The Refugee Girl/I Prosfigopoula (1938)”
In this paper I will discuss the role of music in early Greek cinema, focusing on a particular film of that era, The Refugee Girl (I Prosfigopoula, 1938), a Greek-Egyptian co-production. The film, as directed by the established Egyptian filmmaker Togo Mizrahi and based on a cinematic adaptation of a Dimitrios Bogris’s play, was a commercial triumph. The paper addresses the first appearance of Sophia Vembo, an emerging actress and singer in the Greek theatre and music scene; the involvement of Giannis Konstantinidis (a.k.a. Kostas Giannidis), a well-known composer working with both Western high-art and Greek light music idioms; and the contribution of Emilios Savvidis, a multitalented author, journalist and lyricist. This musical drama was widely distributed since the early fifties as “a wonderful soundtrack”, in which Vembo performs five nostalgic popular songs by Konstantinidis, drawing attention to the embryonic film music practices of early Greek cinema.
The cosmopolitan means of its production, as opposed to the popular notion of cinema, create an ambiguous yet motivating field for audiovisual and cultural discourse analysis. Through a critical musicological approach, this paper looks into hidden aspects of the film’s audiovisual representation in order to highlight the qualities of the musical and cultural landscapes in Greece during the period under consideration. The association between film and music, i.e. the visible and the audible components of movies, becomes an important medium to critically investigate the construction of cultural identities, the expression of collective memories, the experience of personal emotional situations and the osmosis between everyday life, special shared events and the broader social imaginary during the interwar period in Greece.
28. Anna Poupou (Hellenic Open University), “Space and Narration in Some Early Greek Films”
This paper focuses on the construction of narrative space in Greek films from the early years to the introduction of sound. According to Noël Burch, the use of urban locations in early films marked the passage from a cinema of attractions to a first kind of narrative order in cinematic genres such as the slapstick comedy and the chase film. Itineraries through the city lead to a systematization of the chaos of primitive narration and to the linearity of continuity editing. In early Greek films such as Villar’s Adventures (Joseph Hepp, 1924) and The Wizard of Athens (Achilleas Madras, 1931), despite the fact that they were produced in the 1920s and early 1930s, we can trace this kind of liminal status of the urban space that marks a shift from the cityscape as spectacle to city scenes with a narrative structure. The study will take under examination a typology constructed by early Western city scenes or city views of the Greek space, including national representations and stereotypes, in order to compare and trace the influences of international modes of space construction in Greek film production.
29. Golbarg Rekabtalaei (University of Toronto), Mapping the City in Film: Early Cinema and the Spatial Imagination of Tehran
After the commencement of its public screenings in 1903, cinema became closely tied to urban developments and societal transformations in Tehran as part and parcel of the processes of Iranian modernity. This paper explores the ways in which cinema, as a heterotopic site, contributed to urban hybridity and the shaping of cosmopolitan imaginations. Furthermore, investigating newsreels, short and feature films from the first three decades of the twentieth century, this presentation will also attend to how the depiction of urban experiences in films provided criticisms of societal transformations brought on by this "new time." By the early twentieth century, Tehran had become a popular diasporic hub for the Armenian, Azerbaijani, Ottoman, Georgian, Russian, French, British and German communities, who lived and intermingled in various neighbourhoods. To meet the demands of these diverse groups, the space of the city was further expanded and compartmentalized. With the increase in urban population, Tehran experienced a rapid multiplication of public sites such as hotels, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, theatres, and public venues for city spectacles designed for the recreation and commingling of its residents. Movie theatres were built in urban areas that were easily accessible by mechanical forms of transportation such as tramways and streetcars; thus further facilitating the circulation of diverse people, ideologies, ethnicities, and religions. Concentrated in the most crowded streets and owned/operated by the diasporic communities of Tehran, movie houses became sites of sociability for audiences who inhabited these urban centres. Providing an ‘opening to the world,’ the cinema screen, on the other hand, prompted the exchange and circulation of images and ideas; showcasing different lifestyles, cultures, landscapes, and technological innovations, the international films onscreen offered a cinematic horizon of expectation for multiple alternative futures. Drawing on everyday city experiences in films, this paper intends to draw attention to Tehran, as a cosmopolitan city, as being central to the discussions on cinema and modernity in Iran, and also to establish film as an analytical tool of urban developments.
30. Serkan Şavk (Izmir University of Economics), “Eremya Chelebi Komurjian, Ottoman Istanbul and Filmmaker’s Gaze: Expanding the Pre-History of Cinema to a Textual Narrative from the 17th Century”
As a term of historical periodization, pre-history refers to a time span prior to a constructed beginning and what is recorded. This characteristic of the term makes it eligible for investigating the roots of cinema before early moving image capturing and/or projecting technologies such as the cinématographe, the kinetoscope or even the zoetrope. In this paper, I focus on Eremya Chelebi Komurjian’s Armenian History of Istanbul from the 17th century in order to demonstrate the existence of an unexpected pre-historical cinematic gaze. Even though defined as a short history of the city, the book of Komurjian appears more to be a city guide, which is full of visual descriptions and calls for the engagement of the audience. He constructs a cinematic gaze – as I call it in this paper – rather than simply depicting the view of the city. This cinematic aspect of Komurjian’s text has only attracted the attention of Cemal Kafadar, who, in an interview, described this book as a “camera travel prior to the camera itself”. Proving Kafadar right, Komurjian depicts Istanbul similar to the perspective of a filmmaker by keeping track of orientation, distance and continuity of perception throughout the book. Based on the statement of Kafadar and the rich visuality of Komurjian’s book, this paper aims at answering the questions how Komurjian developed such a cinematic gaze and how his narrative is articulated to the prehistory of cinema. With this in mind, I compare the textual elements of Komurjian’s narrative to fundamental principals of cinematography, composition and editing.
31. Viola Shafik (Humbolt University and Ludwig Maximilian University) “Badr Lama’s Patterned Vest or The Challenges of Writing a ‘National’ Film History”
The Egyptian Press mocked the fact that Badr Lama had equipped his Bedouin hero in his 1928 melodrama A Kiss in the Desert with a patterned waist coat. This untypical costume seemed to highlight the film’s lack of cultural “authenticity”. Up to date Badr Lama’s national and religious affiliation itself is a subject of debate: Was he Latin American, Palestinian, Christian, Muslim or Jewish?
Filmmaking in Egypt like elsewhere in the region started as a multi-cultural enterprise but films as well as the ethnic, cultural or religious origins and achievements of some of its early pioneers fell into oblivion, were deliberately downplayed or even negated particularly after the consolidation of film industry in 1934. Up to date there is no national archive that has helped to find and preserve any of the films of the early period with very few exceptions. Thus, a whole set of questions arises: What does the controversy of the vest tell about the relationship between national identity and cinematic representation? How and what has helped to define Egyptian cinema as “national” despite of its multi-cultural origin? Also, how does the archive and/or its absence play into the writing of that particular national film history?
32. Deborah A. Starr (Cornell University), “Crimes of Mistaken Identity in Togo Mizrahi’s Alexandria”
In 1929 Togo Mizrahi (1901-1986), an Egyptian-born Jew of Italian nationality, founded a studio and production company in Alexandria. Togo Mizrahi embraced the entire filmmaking process—screenwriting, directing, producing, and, in the early years, acting. Between 1934 and 1938 Mizrahi directed and produced several comedies of mistaken identity—in Arabic and in Greek—that play out in the streets, cafes, shops, homes, clinics, and, of course, beaches of Alexandria. These films represent a culture of coexistence that cuts across class, featuring Greek and shami (Levantine Arab) characters, as well as members of the Francophone Alexandrian elites.
Mizrahi’s Arabic films provide an important source for understanding the narratives and images Egyptians received about being modern national subjects. Between the 1919 Revolution and the 1952 Free Officer’s Revolt pluralist nationalism was superseded by notions of national identity that excluded minorities. This paper aims to shed light on how Mizrahi’s inter-war films contributed to contemporaneous discussions about who was Egyptian.
Mizrahi’s films project what I call a “Levantine cinematic idiom.” Levantine films display three characteristics. First, Levantine films engage with, but do not necessarily promote, an ethics of coexistence. Second, these films employ a visual language of inclusion, a Levantine aesthetic. Third, in these films the performance of identity is fluid and mutable, embracing vagueness and porousness of the boundaries of identity.
In this paper I analyze two comedies of mistaken identity in which Levantine pairs—a Jew and Muslim in Al-Manduban (Two Delegates, 1934); and a Nubian and a Lebanese in Khafir al-Darak (The Watchman, 1936)—thwart sinister plots of an international crime syndicate. I argue that these films utilize liminal characters to define the boundaries of law and nation. I also explore how these films use language, idiom, and gibberish to distinguish Egyptian Levantine society from the foreign.
33. Irini Stathi (University of the Aegean), “Early Cinema as Re-Interpretation of the Past: Identity and Origin in the Balkan Context”
Motion pictures became a kind of national phenomenon and, consequently, part of national cultures. G. Bertellini, R. Abel and R. King, the editors of the book Early Cinema and the National (2008), examine the conceptions of the nation bound up with early cinema, including not only visual and narrative forms, but also international geopolitics.
The fuzzy, flexible, and multicultural make-up of the Balkans requires a transnational approach when dealing with early cinema issues in order to understand, interpret and conceptualize cinema’s evolution in the last century and especially during the period that preceded and followed the Balkan wars.
In the Balkans the cross-pollination of different traditions (artistic and cultural) from both the West and East has created a specific visual culture and the arrival of cinema afforded new means for its expression.
The extended fusion of these cultural aspects in the early twentieth century and the multi- cultural identity of the community, as well as the geopolitics of the Ottoman Empire, are reflected in the cinematic images of everyday life. The preservation of memory through the first images of the area gives to the Balkan context a form of cultural map and a geopolitical reading of this map, which includes political, social, and historical discourses, marked by complex palimpsests constructed by the continuous rewriting of the past.
This paper will explore the interrelationship between constructions of historical and social discourses and constructions of memory and identity in Balkan contexts, focusing on the national and transnational identities of the population in early 20th-century images made by Balkan artists (for instance the Manakia brothers) and Western companies (Pathé films). It will also explore some emblematic images in early Greek cinema which propose some kind of differentiation of the Greek identity in the Balkan context.
34. Jonathan Stubbs (Cyprus International University), “‘An Island That’s Hardly Known:’ Cyprus (1929) and the Showcasing of Empire”
This paper will examine Cyprus (1929), a four-reel silent travelogue commissioned by the colonial Government of Cyprus and produced by British Instructional Films. I will explore the film’s production and exhibition histories and its afterlife when footage was repurposed in later productions. More broadly, I will consider how the colonial administration used film as a means to represent the imperial project for domestic audiences in Britain. Funded entirely by the island’s colonial government, Cyprus reflected Governor Ronald Storrs’s personal determination to ‘put Cyprus on the map’. As such, it expressed prevailing British attitudes towards the territory and the population under their command. At a time when the island was undergoing an awkward transition from post-Ottoman protectorate to Crown Colony, the film promoted Cyprus in terms of the pleasures it offered tourists and the opportunities available to investors. However, the production of Cyprus was marred by disputes between the colonial administration and the British production company. Both parties were ultimately unhappy with the film, and the material only reached a significant audience after being heavily re-edited to make two shorter features with sound commentaries. Despite its failure, however, Cyprus remains a significant work, not only as the first film to be produced commercially in Cyprus, but also as a document of relations between the colonial metropolis and its periphery.
35. Elizabeth F. Thompson (University of Virginia), “Gender at the Imperial Boundary in Early Arab Cinema”
In April 1923, the “Joan of Arc” of the Turkish war of independence, Halide Edib, staged the premiere of her first movie at the Beyoglu Palace cinema in Istanbul. Based on her wartime novel, The Shirt of Flame, it drew mass crowds and even the Turkish leader, Mustafa Kemal. Four years later, Egypt’s first full-length hit movie, Layla, premiered at the Metropole cinema in Cairo. Theater actress Aziza Amir produced and starred in the story of a Bedouin woman seduced by an Egyptian man, who abandoned her for a foreign tourist. In a not unsubtle allegory of Egypt herself, the woman is rescued from brutal exploitation by a generous aristocrat. In Damascus at the same time, Syrians produced their first feature, The Innocent Victim. But they were bankrupted when religious conservatives protested against the star, a Muslim actress. The French mandatory government forced them to re-shoot movie with a Christian (German) actress.
This paper explores the gendered “colonial difference” in the rise of Arab cinema, by juxtaposing the history of spectatorship, exhibition and production in interwar Cairo, Beirut, and Damascus. First, I draw on the early work of Arjun Appadurai to examine movie theaters as a nexus of colonial encounter, mutual reflection, imitation, and conflict. Immediately upon occupation in Syria and Lebanon, for example, the French took over theaters formerly used by Ottoman officials to screen their own colonial propaganda. Movie screens thereby became politicized, as windows on the (supposedly superior) civilization of the European colonizer. However, the secular democracy in European and American movies was not played out in theaters. Christian minorities who had pioneered the opening of cinemas now became the targets of political tension, under foreign – and Christian—rule. European rule also excited tensions along gender boundaries in a rapidly transforming urban landscape. I draw inspiration from Miriam Hansen’s seminal work on how silent cinema constituted new—and gendered—publics, to consider the politics behind both the centrality of women stars and the politics of women’s seclusion. The politics of early cinema, I conclude, played an important role in debates defining the nation – who was in, who was out—as Arabs negotiated their post-Ottoman future. Virtually no early prints of Arab films are extant, so the paper draws on colonial censorship and police records, the local press (including the earliest fan magazines), memoirs, movie scenarios, press books and posters.
36. Vassiliki Tsitsopoulou (University of Indiana, Bloomington), “Portrait of the Sultan: 1920’s Cinema and Its Ottoman Subjects”
My presentation will take as its point of departure a lawsuit brought by the family of deceased Abdulhamid II (1842-1918) in French court against the producer and the director of the film Jalma la double (1928). Some of the documents of the court case and their related sources and commentary survive, as does the film itself, which is based on an adventure novel for young readers published some years earlier. The presentation will consist of a preliminary analysis of the trial documents tracing the multiple facets of the “subject” concept embedded in the legal discourse.
The first meaning at play is that of the “subject in/of law” (sujet de droit or Rechtssubjekt) as applied to the image and name of the historical Abdulhamid II in European jurisprudence on photography and early film. I examine some of the ways in which the legal reasoning that gave the film company complete control over the cinematic representation of the sultan is predicated on invoking and effacing history at the same time. The film’s significance as a case study on the construction of the Ottoman sovereign as a subject of/in European law is tied to its general subject-matter, which it shares with many other films produced in the 1920s in Europe and the US. Although unstated and uncatalogued, it is nevertheless a cinematic subject that can be identified and described typologically and should be regarded as the West’s imaginary representation of its political and economic power over the Ottoman Empire in the turn of the 20th century.
This brings us to the film’s producer, Louis Nalpas, and the two actors, Hugues Bagratide and Acho Chakatouny, who played the key Ottoman characters. Nalpas was a former Ottoman subject from a Levantine family of mixed French, Greek and possibly Armenian kinship lines. Bagratide and Chakatouny were Armenian and possibly former Ottoman subjects as well. Their involvement in this film marks them as the unwitting instruments of another Western legal tradition of prerogative vis-à-vis the Ottoman Empire that haunted the court case and its outcome: the legal imperialism of extraterritoriality.
37. Mila Turajlic (University of Belgrade and SciencesPo), “National Identity and Early Serbian Historical Film”
This paper looks at historical spectacles produced in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia from 1911 to 1941 with the aim of examining their role in the constitution of national collectivity. Specifically focusing on films produced in Serbia in the period of the Karadjordjevic dynasty, the paper will examine the various aspects of the relationship between cinema and the state ranging from power legitimization to nation-building. In tracing a line of films from The Life and Deeds of the Immortal Leader Karadjordje (Život i dela besmrtnog vožda Karadjordja, 1911) to Serbian Golgotha: Fires in the Balkans (Golgota Srbije: požar na Balkanu, 1941) it aims to identify how and why these films attempt to build a historical and national memory narrative that was adapted to the political, dynastic and historical context of the times. A second part of the argument looks at the role of these films in public discourse today in their use within public commemorative events, situating them within modern-day Serbia’s efforts to inscribe its place in pre-communist historical and cinematic narratives and questioning their use as historical evidence.
38. Marian Ţuţui (Institute of Art History, Bucharest), “Evidence and Speculation on the Manakis Brothers and Sigmund Weinberg as Pioneers of Balkan Cinema”
The first information on the activity of Manakis Brothers and Sigmund Weinberg can be dated quite early but is insufficient. The press of their times and some ethnographic studies covered the photographic activity of the Manakis or the activity of their movie theatre but not their activity as filmmakers. As a result a lot of risky assertions have been made about their nationality; the awards for their photographic activity; the year when they made their first and last film; the titles of their films; whether their films were shown to the public or not, etc. Similarly, the role of Sigmund Weinberg alongside Fuat Uzkınay in making the first Turkish films still remains unclear. However, some documents that, surprisingly, have been neglected help us find out that the Manakis Brothers first found out about cinema in Bucharest in 1906 and they shot their first film in 1907, while two film copies preserved in Belgrade and Bucharest, Scenes from the Life of the Vlachs in the Pindus and A Voyage to Turkish Macedonia, keep the original titles and inserts, including the name of their studio. On the other hand, there are some newly found documents that have to be taken into consideration. Recently, I found three Vlach periodicals published between 1908- 1912 that include advertisings by the Manakis where they announce that they were selling “cinematographic films.” There is also a newly found vintage poster in Skopje that mentions the screening of films about the visit of Sultan Mehmed Reshad V to Bitola and Thessalonika in 1911 but without mentioning the authors of the films. Regarding Sigmund Weinberg, about whom Turkish documents state that he was a Romanian citizen, we believe that studying the Romanian archives, including the one of the Romanian Consulate in Istanbul, can bring new valuable information.
39. Dario Vidojković (University of Regensburg), “Karadjordje and Sa verom u Boga: Representations of National History in Early Serbian Film”
When talking about early cinema in the Balkans, Serbia is an important country. The first film to be presented in the Balkans was a documentary short shown in a café in Belgrade in 1896. A couple of years later, the first movie would be produced and performed in Serbian cinemas, depicting the life and deeds of the leader of the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottomans, the famous “Vožd” Karadjordje Petrović. This movie was made in 1911, producing a certain impact on the public. The other very important Serb film to be mentioned in my paper is Sa verom u Boga, directed by Mihailo Popović in 1932. This movie deals with Serbia in the Great War. The film was still made as a silent, even though in most European countries and the United States sound had been already introduced into films. In my paper I will focus on these two films by asking how they have represented memorable events from Serbia’s history, like the uprising of 1804 or Serbia’s struggle in WWI. Besides the narrative of these movies, their use of a certain iconography will be of importance. So I will ask how the Ottomans and the Serbs were depicted in Karadjordje, as this was the first movie of the young Serb national state. It will also be of interest to see how, for instance, rural life in Serbia during the Great War was shown, as can be seen in Sa verom u Boga. Another question would be the way in which these two movies could have contributed to fostering a national feeling among the Serbs, or how national pride was caught up in them. Finally, it would be very interesting to compare them with contemporary movies from other countries, like France or the United States.
40. Alexander Yanakiev (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences), “Routes, Passengers, Movies”
Balkan civil aviation was just gaining momentum at the outbreak of World War II. To get to Bulgaria a visitor had to cross another Balkan country on board a train or a ship, or in a motorcar or a horse-drawn carriage. The same was the case for goods, including movies and filmmaking equipment.
Some of these trips were known. Still, there are many more that are unknown, lost in the mists of time. Johan Fišer and Konstantin Drndarski, who were brought together in a fatal case on whether a cine-projector was stolen or legally acquired, set off from Ruse to Vienna and Giurgiu in 1897. Louis Pitrolf de Beéry arrived in Sofia from Belgrade in 1913. In 1924, Major F.A.C. Forbes-Leith, driving an automobile from London to India, visited Zagreb, Belgrade, Sofia, Plovdiv, Edirne, Istanbul, Ankara, Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran to reach as far as Pakistan’s Quetta, which at the time was within India’s borders. The expedition was filmed by Montague Redknap for British Pathé. Dr. Harold B. Allen, who had worked a decade in Greece for the American Near East Foundation, set off on a trip in 1935 to shoot in Bulgaria. In 1937/38 Swiss company Tem-films made a series of films in Greece, including Athens (650m), The Peloponnese (560m), Views of Crete (450m), The Port of Piraeus, etc. The team showed interest in shooting in Bulgaria too. These are just a few examples. The paper will introduce some facts about foreign travelling filmmakers passing through the Balkans.