2008 Girona and Perpignan Conference


Peripheral Early Cinemas

With half of the panels in Girona and the other half in Perpignan, the tenth international Domitor conference has the distinction of being the first to travel across a national border. Participants at this peripatetic conference explored peripheral geographies, technologies, and spectators of early cinema. The presentations, by bringing overshadowed aspects of early cinema history to light, worked to redefine relationships of center and periphery with a careful attention to their shifting boundaries in different periods and in different regions.



The notion of “Peripheral cinemas” is geographical concept: cinema that is made or viewed far from the institutional center (for example, national capitals). But the designation is not only spatial. It also involves cinemas produced on the margins of developing industrial and cultural institutions.

“Peripheral” then, connotes “regional or “provincial,” but these characterizations are relative to the specific historical period. It was Barcelona, for instance, that was the actual capital of Spanish filmmaking in 1900. Furthermore, the idea of “regional” or “provincial” is not relevant to numerous places (Italy, USA, not to mention non-Western countries).

As a result, the concept of “local cinema” becomes very problematic.

Issues and Questions envisioned

  1. Institutional context. The operative conceptual tool of the Center-Periphery antinomy. To identify peripheral early cinemas reflects as well the institutional forms of centrality that were springing up. Where is the institutional “center” in early cinema?
  2. Models and types of production. Can we speak of a “central model” —such as the cinema of attractions—and other “peripheral models,” such as travel films, tableaux vivants, publicity, etc&hellep;? Amateur films and military films are “peripheral” today in relation to commercial institutional production. Were they in the time of early cinema? Was women’s cinema, to the extent that it existed in the early period, peripheral?
  3. The sociological level. Is there a sociological center—“bourgeois” film—for example, an English “working class” cinema? Is this distinction valid at the level of production? Reception? The two combined?
  4. Industrial and peripheral exhibition systems. How did exhibition systems develop from a center? Were they aligned with specific ideas of a geographical center? Were there alternative forms of film exhibition not dependent on a center, for example in rural locations or the outskirts of large cities? Examples would be comparisons between Torino/Roma in Italy, Paris/Marseille or Paris/Nice in France or Madrid/Barcelona in Spain. Did this dichotomy function in cinematic environments everywhere, especially outside of Europe?
  5. Historiography. Film history traditionally has been written from the center about the center. This is becoming less the case in recent years and relates to early cinema. Has historiography established a certain centrality in early films studies that we should consider revising? Furthermore, was it like that in the writing of the time? Is this centrality the norm in Western countries? At the same time, is the history of non-Western cinemas relegated to the periphery?
  6. The study of representation: the “colonial” gaze. One puts in this category all the forms of viewing that emanate from the center to the periphery. How did that function in cinema at its origins? Peripheral and folkloric relationships? How did cinema take into account “minority” cultures at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries? The relationship of periphery to center would accordingly by first and foremost defined in terms of the gaze.
    Included in this examination are “peripheral” cinematographic practices that gaze upon “peripheral” cultures from outside as subjects. This would include “tourist,” “ethnographic” and neighboring filmmaking.
    In order to avoid over-extending and overflowing the topic, we are not counting scientific, advertising or instructional films. Certainly, this is another issue, since one could maintain that they were “peripheral” in relation to institutional cinema


Production and Filmmakers

WALLER G. (Indiana Univ.): “Toward a taxinomy of local films in the United States”

MINGUET BATLLORI J. (Univ. Autònoma de Barcelona): “De la périphérie au centre. Segundo de Chomon et les attractions Pathé”

O’BRIEN C. (Carleton , Canada) “Lighting and cinematography in Griffith’s Biograph Shorts: electrification and film style, from east to west”

BASTIDE B. (Univ. Marne la Vallée): “Fernand Itier, pionnier du cinéma dans le Gard”

DE LA BRETEQUE F. (Univ Montpellier 3 et Institut Jean Vigo): “Dialectique du central et du provincial chez un représentant par excellence de l’institution dans le cinéma français des années 10: retour sur Louis Feuillade”

LECOINTE T. (Rectorat de Montpellier): “Doit-on considérer, dans l’historiographie du cinéma français en 1896 que: les frères Lumière sont au centre du dispositif originel et les concurrents, des systèmes d’exploitation périphériques? Paris est centre de distribution et les régions, un réseau périphérique annexe?”

FLETCHER T. (London) : “The cinematograph in Rhyle”

WOOD D. M.J. (Univ. Autónoma México): “Surviving early Mexican film on the border of the periphery?”

Distribution and Exhibition

COSANDEY R. (Ecole centrale d’art, lausanne et Vevey): “Une histoire régionale du cinéma: centre et périphérie. Le cas suisse”

KESSLER F. & LENK S. (Univ. Utrecht, Nederlands Institut voor Beeld en geluid): “Un centre périphérique : émergence et institutionnalisation du spectacle cinématographique à Düsseldorf”

IVERSEN G. (Univ. Trondheim, Norvège): Working in the periphery: two itinerant German exhibitors in Norway before 1910”

VAN BEUSEKOM A. (Utrecht Univ.): “The Netherlands at the institutional periphery in the exhibition and distribution of major American films : the role of travelling showmen in the late teens.”

SANCHEZ SALAS D. (Univ. Rey Juan Carlos): “La creación de la periferia cinematográfica en España 1912-1915”

BRAUN M. and KEIL C. (Univ. Toronto): “No centre, no periphery ? Early film exhibition in Ontario, Canada”

MOORE P. (Univ. Ryerson, Ontario ): “The region as mediating scale”

OLLSON J. (Univ. Stockholm): “Negociationg peripheral feature market: Kristianstad-Stockholm-Paris or Malmo- Copenhagen-Berlin”

PROSKUROVA O. (Univ. Latvia): “cinematographic in Latvia: re-animation of its publics (1895-1917)”

VERGOLIN L. (Il Cinema ritrovato, Bologna): “Un cas de cinéma périphérique: Bologne en 1907”

Reception: Situating the Spectator

GAUDREAULT A. et LIU Y. (Univ. Montréal, Univ. Fujian):“ A la recherche du bonimenteur chinois&hellep;”

LACASSE G. (Univ. Montréal): “ Le film bonimenté, du centre à la périphérie”

BALAN C. (Univ. St Andrews): “The metaphysics of the eyes: Undestanding Ottoman spectatorship in the precinematic era”

ASKARI K. (West. Washington Univ.): “Nonsynchronous reception at the Grand Cinema, Teheran”

OZEN M. ( Amsterdam ): At the periphery of Europe: “ early cinema in the Ottoman capital Istambul”

CHATTERJEE R. (Univ. Westminster): “Peripheral encounters : early cinema in Calcutta”

CHRISTIE I. (University College, London): “L’effet de présentation des films du ‘centre’ dans les régions coloniales pendant les premiers temps ”

SOTO VAZQUEZ B. (Univ. Rey Juan Carlos): “De la periferia de ultramar al centro de la metrópolis. El cinematógrafo y la guerra de Cuba vistos desde España”

MACHETTI SANCHEZ S. (Univ. Lleida): “El centre a l’ombra de la perifèria. Estudi quantitatiu del consum cinematogràfic dels primers temps en àmbits locals”

VERONNEAU P (Cinémathèque Canadienne, Montréal): “ Vivre dans la périphérie: stratégies de résistance”

Intermedial Comparisons

PHILLIPS W D. ( New York Univ. ): “Place and utility of satire in early cinema”

HORAK L. ( Berkeley ) “The forgotten practice of cross-gender casting in early American film: Edna/Billy Foster at the Biograph Company.”

WALTZ G. (USA) “Half real-half reel entertainments: On the periphery of stage and screen”

KING R. ( Toronto ): “Small-town slapstick; regional populism and regional pastoralism in transitional-era US comedy”


ABEL R. (univ. Michigan): “Small town newspapers about propotion and exhibition of motion pictures through the website newspaperarchive.com”

ALONSO GARCIA L. (Univ. Rey Juan Carlos): “Desplazamientos: la reintegración de los estudios del cine primitivo en la historia de los medios”

Malgozata Hendrykowska (Adam Mickiewicz University) “Early Polish experiments with sound in film”

BRAUN B. (Univ. Trier): ‘‘Early local films in moderns applications”

Round Table

CHEFRANOVA O: “From garden to kino: central and peripherial in Evgenii Bauer’s artistic career, Moscow 1880-1917”

DULAC N. (Univ. Montréal, Univ. Paris III Sorbonne-Nouvelle) “Les jouets optiques et la genèse du cinéma: discours déterministe et « cinémato-centrisme » au tournant du 20e siècle”

CHEMARTIN P. GAUTHIER P. (Univ. Montréal, Univ. Catholique Louvain et Univ. Montréal, Univ. Lausanne) “Genre, série culturelle ou institution parallèle? La question du dessin à transformations et des premiers temps du dessin animé”


MAULE R. ( Concordia Univ. ): “Problematizing the trans-national from a feminist perspective: early cinema, modernity, and western-centered approaches to early cinema ”

GAINES J. ( Columbia Univ. ): “Anonymities : uncredited and as-yet-unknown contributors in early cinema”

Peripheral Spaces of Genre

SUAREZ CARMONA L. (Girona): “Pornografia i erotisme en el cinema dels primers temps a Barcelona ”

CONDON D. (Centre for media Studies, Maynooth, IRL): “Rejecting the tourist gaze in provincial Irish picture Houses in the early 1910s”

DAHLQUIST M. ( Strockholm Univ. ): “Screening Congo in swedish churches — Johan Hammar’s missionary films 1915-16”

PETERSON J. (Univ. Colorado, Boulder): “Travelogues and immigrants ”

SARGEANT A. (Univ. Warwick ): “From soap wrappers to soaps”


Magic Lantern Screening
Les origines de notre cinéma, “périphéries péninsulaires”, Organized by the Filmoteca de Catalunya (Cinema Truffaut)

Laura Minici Zotti presents a magic lantern show. David Francis and Helen Day-Mayer present Ostler Joe in lantern and Griffith’s film version.

Open air screening
At the Arsenal Organized by the Institut Jean Vigo