David Nicholas Wilkinson’s ‘The First Film’ Documentary Gets September Release

The First Film
Courtesy of Guerilla Films

Guerilla Films has set a Sept. 12 North American release date for David Nicholas Wilkinson’s documentary “The First Film” across all major platforms, Variety has learned exclusively.

The movie argues that Louis Le Prince was the first person to serve as a cameraman, director, and producer of a motion picture, and that the first capture of moving images was produced in October of 1888 in Leeds, England, and shot on cameras patented in both America and the U.K.

However, in 1890, just days before he was due to sail to New York, Le Prince stepped onto the Dijon-to-Paris train and was never seen again. Because no body was ever found, no one could legally fight for the Le Prince claim that he invented a camera that recorded the very first moving image. As a result, Thomas Edison and the Lumiére Brothers were able to claim subsequently that they had been the first people to pioneer film.

“The First Film” will hold its U.S. premiere on Sept. 8 at New York’s Morris-Jumel Mansion, which was chosen by Le Prince to debut his first footage in 1890.

“Like every British filmmaker of my generation, America is the country to have your film seen,” Wilkinson said in a statement. “With ‘The First Film,’ it is doubly important.”

“By screening at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, we are completing the journey the French-born, American citizen Louis Le Prince was denied when he disappeared in 1890. Le Prince recognized how important it was for his footage to be shown in America, rather than Britain or France, in order to have the greatest impact on the world stage. I am humbled to complete this significant screening for him by premiering his footage within my film,” Wilkinson added.

Wilkinson produced and directed “The First Film,” which includes interviews with Michael Harvey, Mark Rance, Stephen Herbert, Daniel Martin, Tony Earnshaw, Adrian Wootton, Tony North, Jacques Pfend, Tony Pierce-Roberts BSC, Laurie Snyder, Carol S Ward, Louise A Handley, Quentin Dowse, Tony North, Liz Rymer, Ronald Harwood, Tom Courtenay, and Joe Eszterhas.

It was shot in Leeds, Bradford, London, and Hastings in the U.K.; Metz, Dijon, Cannes, and Paris in France; and Memphis, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Fire Island, and New York in the U.S.

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