Louis Le Prince: New focus on film pioneer’s work in Leeds

Louis Le Prince.
Louis Le Prince.
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He’s feted by some in Leeds but has been airbrushed from history in other parts of the world.

Now a new feature-length documentary called The First Film could see Louis Le Prince at long last receiving full recognition for his work as one of the pioneers of cinema.

It follows its Leeds-born director, David Wilkinson, on his quest to prove beyond all doubt that the Frenchman shot the world’s first moving pictures while living in the city in the late 19th century.

Sequences filmed by Le Prince in 1888 include grainy pictures of Leeds Bridge, where today a blue plaque pays tribute to his achievement.

His mysterious disappearance in 1890, however, left the way clear for America’s Thomas Edison and France’s Lumiere brothers to be hailed by many as the fathers of cinematography.

Actor-turned-filmmaker David told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “For decades when someone in the film industry in Hollywood, New York, Cannes or Berlin would ask me where I was from, I would say where the first film was made.

“People would reply, ‘You don’t sound French or American’. Most would laugh when I said the first film was shot in Leeds.

“I’m hoping what we have put together will go a long way to setting the record straight.”

The First Film’s gala premiere at the Hyde Park Picture House on July 1 will be attended by Le Prince’s great great granddaughter, Laurie Snyder. The event will raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.

Le Prince vanished just weeks before he was due to sail to New York to reveal his newly-perfected projection machine to the American public and the wider world.

For further information about the privately-funded documentary, visit the www.thefirstfilm.co.uk website.

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