August 26, 1914
There was much excitement in St. John’s on August 26, 1914, residents interested in film were excited about the first public showing of a film that was produced in Newfoundland. They were anticipating the showing of the production “Ye Ancient Colony” at the Nickel Theatre.
The setting for the film was the newly established ‘Bowring Park’ known to most residents of the city as the Rae Island property. The company that had undertook the venture was the Newfoundland Biograph Company with financial backing from A. Winter, Mr. Outerbridge and Mr. Harvey.
The film was by today’s standards a documentary featuring the official opening of Bowring Park on 15 July 1914 by His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught.
Those promoting the film wrote in the Evening Telegram:
“We are inclined to hail the advent of the local firm who have had the courage to inaugurate the idea of preserving by means of animated photography figures, scenes and occurrences of our Home Land. Their courage and enterprise is something of which we must not lose sight ….“
The newspaper went on to read:
“and it is hope that the people who witness the film at the Nickel Theatre tonight, will bear in mind that this splendid presentation is no mere passing item, an ordinary release, but is a local rendition of a local subject, photographed by local people, financed by local promoters and offered as Newfoundland’s first contribution in the way of animated photography.”
Though much of the early film shot in Newfoundland and Labrador was lost or destroyed, a valuable and significant archive has been preserved.
Recommended Archives: The Provincial Archives at The Rooms includes footage by pre-Confederation filmmakers, Varick Frissell’s; The Viking (1931) and The Great Arctic Seal Hunt (1927) , NIFCO, the National Film Board of Canada maintain rich collections of much of the work done since Confederation. Search the Archives: https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections
Recommended Reading: The Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development Corporation (NLFDC). The NLFDC has been mandated to promote the development of the indigenous film and video industry in the Province, as well as to promote the Province in national and international film and video markets as a location for film, television, and commercial productions. Read more: http://www.nlfdc.ca/
Recommended at The Rooms Theatre: View archival film footage of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians during the First World War. Ongoing showings from 2 – 4pm in the Level 2 theatre
Recommended Film Festival: The St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival (SJIWFF) is one of the longest running women’s film festivals in the world. Established in 1989 to support and promote women filmmakers, SJIWFF produces several screenings, workshops and other events throughout the year, culminating in a five day film festival held in October in St. John’s. http://www.womensfilmfestival.com/