The World of Friese-Greene

The World of Friese-Greene

Bristol UNESCO City of Film: Opening Up The Magic Box

Live stream

Please note: This event took place in July 2021

Look out for a selection of archive shorts curated by South West Silents’ James Harrison as part of Opening Up the Magic Box which marks the centenary of the death of Bristol-born Victorian cinema innovator William Friese-Greene.

The shorts will be screening silent in Watershed’s Café & Bar and We The Curious' Big Screen on Millennium Square during the festival. The selection covers many different aspects of civilian life during the period between 1898 – 1911, a period which saw major changes in the United Kingdom as well as the death of two key British monarchs within that time. At that time, Bristol born inventor William Friese-Greene (1855-1921) was still very much active in his development of film

This line-up also includes a short film from 1920 courtesy of Bristol Archives; Kino the Girl of Colour, an early colour film by William himself (and his son Claude Friese-Greene (1898 – 1940)) showcasing their Biocolour process; a process which would continue to be developed even after William’s death by Claude and rebranded as the ‘The New All British Friese-Greene Natural Colour Process’ which Claude would showcase in his later travelogue film project, The Open Road (1924.)

We then travel back to London in the year 1898. A London which William would have known well by this point in his life after opening two London based photographic shops a decade earlier. The film assemble then continues showing us many different aspects of life during the next decade including leisure time, sports (in this case, cycling and early motorsport), pleasure gardens and the seaside. By contrast we move from streets of many a busy British city including Bristol (thanks to Mitchell and Kenyon) and Halifax to the seaside sites of Bournemouth and the secret coves, beaches and villages of the Cornish riviera. We also take note of the latest fashions during a summer walk as well as the wild 'flying the foam' on Brighton’s very own pier, another key (then) town in the life of William Friese-Greene.

We conclude back on the streets of London to show the impact of the introduction of motorcar on the London streets compared the horse drawn sights seen in the earlier London film.

There will also be an opportunity to check out the responses of Into Film’s Young Reporters to the Friese-Greene story.

About Opening Up The Magic Box

Opening Up the Magic Box – a heritage element of the Film 2021 programme – marks the centenary of the death of Bristol-born film pioneer William Friese-Greene and the 125th anniversary of the first public cinema screening in Bristol, which took place at the Tivoli on 8 June 1896, as well as celebrating Bristol – a UNESCO City of Film since 2017.

This event is part of Bristol Ideas #BristolFilm2021 in collaboration with Cinema Rediscovered, Arnolfini and South West Silents and supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.