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Museum hosts screening to celebrate Leeds’s place in film history


An acclaimed documentary celebrating Leeds’s starring role in the history of film will get an exclusive screening at a local museum this weekend.

The First Film, which has previously wowed audiences in the USA, Russia, Canada, Ireland and Belgium, will be shown at Leeds Industrial Museum this Saturday, Feb 25, alongside the launch of a DVD of the film.

The feature-length documentary was put together by Leeds born and educated filmmaker David Nicholas Wilkinson, who spent 33 years trying to bring The First Film to the cinema and prove once and for all that the world’s first film was shot in Leeds.

The debate has raged since October 1888, when Louis Le Prince filmed his famous footage on Leeds Bridge using cameras patented in both America and the UK.

Once he had perfected his projection machine, Le Prince arranged to demonstrate his discovery to the American public. But on September 16, 1890, just weeks before he was due to sail to New York, he stepped onto the Dijon to Paris train and was never seen again.

His body was never found, so legally no one could prove the Le Prince claim that he invented a camera which recorded the very first moving image.

As a result, Thomas Edison and the Lumiere Brothers were hailed as the first people to pioneer film- but David was determined to see Leeds and Le Prince take their rightful place in the history books.

He said: “It took me 33 years to get this film to the big screen and for years literally hundreds of people did not believe the story.

“So many of them would say the story was weakened because I was saying the first film was made in Leeds and they’d laugh. But Leeds, as I show in the film, was possibly the world’s most innovative city in many areas in the 1800’s. I have now proven the truth- the world’s very first film was made on October 14, 1888 by a Frenchman in Leeds.

“Armley Mills features prominently in The First Film and I’m pleased that I’m able to launch the DVD there because without them, Leeds Central Library, the Corn Exchange, Kirkgate Market, the Town Hall, Middleton Railway and Temple Mills I could not have told this fascinating story that was unknown outside of Yorkshire.”

Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries added: “This film is a fantastic tribute to the crucial part Leeds played in the history of film which has helped secure the legacy of a true pioneer.

“Leeds is a city which has always shown huge support for those who want to make their mark in the film industry and we’re pleased to have helped bring such an important and influential documentary to life.”

Screenings of The First Film will take place at Leeds Industrial Museum tomorrow (Feb 25) at 10.30, 12.30 and 2.30.

David Nicholas Wilkinson will be signing copies of The First Film DVD and Made in Yorkshire book. £10 for both. RRP £37.99.

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