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Day to celebrate the world’s first moving images, shot in Leeds


A day of events to celebrate Louis Le Prince, the cinema pioneer internationally-recognised for filming the world’s first moving images in Leeds, will be hosted by Leeds Beckett University.

Louis Le Prince

Taking place on Thursday 2 November, the ‘Celebrating Louis Le Prince’ event will include a guest lecture on experimental film and the opening of an exhibition, culminating in the unveiling of a historic plaque, commemorating Le Prince’s achievements.

Louis Le Prince was a Frenchman, born in 1841, who conducted his groundbreaking work in Leeds in 1888. He filmed two moving picture sequences, Roundhay Garden Scene, shot at Oakwood Grange and believed to be the oldest surviving film in existence, and a Leeds Bridge street scene, using his single-lens camera.

Louis Le Prince still - Roundhay Garden
Still from Roundhay garden scene

On the day, a plaque, originally on the site of Le Prince’s workshop in Leeds, which has been in the care of the Science and Media Museum in Bradford, will be reinstated at its original home of Broadcasting Place, part of Leeds Beckett’s city campus. A celebrity guest from the Leeds International Film Festival will unveil the plaque in the entrance to Broadcasting Place.

Professor Robert Shail said: “It's thrilling to bring back the original Louis Le Prince plaque to its home at the site of his former workshop. Le Prince was a pioneer who helped to make cinema possible. Today Leeds Beckett keeps those traditions of innovation alive at the Northern Film School. We are delighted to commemorate his achievements and the role of Leeds in film history through the launch of a new annual lecture, as well as the opening of an exhibition celebrating his life and work. This day of events demonstrates how our collaboration with Leeds International Film Festival keeps the city at the forefront of film culture.”

From 11am to 12.30pm, the first Louis Le Prince Lecture will take place. Hosted by the Northern Film School at Leeds Beckett in conjunction with the Leeds International Film Festival, the aim of this annual event is to showcase the work of outstanding contemporary film artists and the first speaker will be the renowned film, video and installation artist, John Smith.

Louis Le Prince still - Leeds Bridge
Still from Leeds bridge street scene

John, who is from Walthamstow, has had more than 50 works shown in independent cinemas, galleries and on television since 1972. His film, The Girl Chewing Gum, is widely acknowledged as one of the most important avant-garde films of the 20th century.

John was awarded the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists in 2011 and, in 2013, he received Film London’s Jarman Award. John’s work subverts the perceived boundaries between fiction and documentary, playfully exploring the language of cinema while remaining rooted in everyday life. He will introduce and screen a selection of his films at the Henry Moore Lecture Theatre, Leeds Art Gallery. The event is free to attend and all are welcome. To book a place, please click here.

Following the lecture, an exhibition of images and artifacts related to Louis Le Prince, and in particular to his years in Leeds, will be opened by Laurie Snyder, a descendant of Le Prince. Curated by Irfan Shah, a world expert on the life and work of Le Prince, the exhibition will be held in the Local and Family History section of Leeds Central Library. The exhibition will be free to view and will run from 2 – 16 November.

For more information please click here.

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