Bristol UNESCO City of Film: Opening Up The Magic Box
Science Museum Group, Object 1994-5014/6, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 Licence

Bristol UNESCO City of Film: Opening Up The Magic Box

Cinema Rediscovered 2021

Five years on, we continue our celebration of Bristol’s status as UNESCO City of Film, a global recognition of the city's outstanding contribution to film culture.

This year, as part of #BristolFilm2021, Cinema Rediscovered has teamed up with Bristol Ideas and South West Silents to present Opening up the Magic Box, a celebration of Victorian cinema innovator William Friese-Greene on the centenary of his death; “as famous for not having invented cinema as he is for inventing it.” (The Guardian, May 2021.)

We welcome back film director and historian Peter Domankiewicz who has spent over 20 years researching Friese-Greene, is about to start a PhD on the subject and is determined to reinstate Friese-Greene as one of the great figures in the development of the moving image. Domankiewicz also believes that Friese-Greene is someone who should be credited with more than he has been to date, including his support of women photographers and his willingness to collaborate on projects.

There's an opportunity to watch the all-star 1951 biopic, The Magic Box and listen to insights from Peter Domankiewicz and arts historian Sir Christopher Frayling, who have each contributed a chapter on the rediscovery of Friese-Greene for a new Bristol Ideas book of essays published this autumn. #BristolFilm2021

Always looking to the future, Friese-Greene created some of the earliest colour film systems, leading to his son Claude capturing 1920s Britain in colour in The Open Road, which will screen with a live accompaniment from world famous composer and musician Neil Brand.

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 supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

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Previous events in this season

The Open Road (with Live Music)

classified U S Bristol UNESCO City of Film
The Open Road (with Live Music)
Please note: This was screened in Aug 2021
Film
A colourful travelogue by Claude Friese-Greene (son of William) filmed during the summer of 1924 from Land’s End to John O’Groats with live piano accompaniment by Neil Brand.
Peter Domankiewicz and Christopher Frayling: Who was William Friese-Greene?
Live stream ended on 1 August 2021
Live stream
As we mark the centenary of his death, Peter Domankiewicz and Sir Christopher Frayling reassess the place of William Friese-Greene – Bristol-born photographer, inventor and pioneer of cinematography – in cinema history.

Cancelled: The Magic Box

classified U Bristol UNESCO City of Film
The Magic Box
Please note: This was screened in Aug 2021
Film
Born in Bristol in 1855, William Friese-Greene began producing photographic images for John Rudge's magic lanterns in 1880. Breaking both his photographic partnership with Arthur Collings and his marriages to Helena and Edith, William Friese-Greene sacrificed everything in a bid to produce a machine that could record and produce motion pictures.

Cinema Walk

Bristol UNESCO City of Film
Cinema Walk
Please note: This event took place in July 2021
Walking tour
Join us for a guided tour through the city centre, following in the footsteps of pioneers in photography and motion pictures, and visit the ghosts of lost picture palaces as well as thriving cinemas and film locations of today.

The World of Friese-Greene

Bristol UNESCO City of Film
The World of Friese-Greene
Live stream ended on 1 August 2021
Live stream
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.