The beginning of the 20th century was an era of new technology, artistic ingenuity and creative entrepreneurship — comparable to today’s world where developments in the field of digital imagery succeed one another rapidly. This winter EYE highlights one of the most interesting periods in film history, through the collection of one of the biggest Dutch names in the field of theatrical film screening and distribution, Jean Desmet (1875-1956).
Through an extensive archive covering 1907-1916, this exhibition brings an exceptionally adventurous period back to life: the early years of cinema, an exciting time during which film matured through numerous experiments in colour, sound, angles, super-imposing and early special effects. Both film and the film industry developed in the years that Desmet was active: Desmet’s company archive offers unique insight into the commercial side of cinema culture, while the remarkable collection of films, posters and publicity material that he also left behind reveal the work of pioneers who the 1910s into a veritable creative hotbed.
Accompanied by film and activity programmes, the exhibition projects a number of films from the Desmet Collection that demonstrate the modern and adventurous nature of early international cinema. They bear witness to a sense of wonder at the artistic potential of cinema, the various narrative styles, and the possibilities of the camera and also testify to the pleasure offered by the new medium: pleasure in seducing the viewer and expressing the power of imagination. The exhibition reveals the evolution of film culture from fairground attraction and travelling screenings to the cinema as an institution.
Jean Desmet’s Dream Factory: The Adventurous Years of Film (1907- 1916), until 12 April 2015, EYE, IJpromenade 1, 1031 KT Amsterdam, Netherlands.
1. L’Orgie romaine, 1911, Louis Feuillade, FR Collectie EYE.