35mm. D.: 10’
The Cinémathèque de la Ville de Paris was established by the local authorities in 1925 to provide schools with educational film to illustrate their lessons and also to collect images of the city. Its heritage duties soon gave way to its didactic role, however, and in 1930 this change led to the cinema playing a major part in the school celebrations marking the centenary of French Algeria. Conferences were organised with slide shows and pamphlets to be distributed to schools. Each conference was accompanied by various films bought by the Cinémathèque especially for the occasion and screened in school gyms and cinemas made available to teachers. In the end, 25,000 children were brought into contact with “the colony, its people, its landscapes, its wealth and the public works that for a century France has carried out at all levels” (René Weiss, Le Centenaire de l’Algérie Française. 1830- 1930, Paris, 1930), by watching films such as Tlemcen, Biskra et El Kantara, Fez. After the intense activity of the French Algeria centenary celebrations, the Cinémathèque continued to distribute films on the colonies, even after the colonial fair of 1931. Between 1930 and 1933, a wide variety of pictures covering the various parts of the empire, from Indo-China to Africa by way of Madagascar, were added to its collection. The films of the ex-colonial administrator Alfred Chaumel became the centrepiece to a number of events organised to promote French action abroad and defend the documentary cinema genre. On February 9th1933 the City Council invited over 5,000 young people to the Gaumont Palace to watch two films by Alfred Chaumel, Le Réveil d’une race and La Symphonie exotique. The version of La Symphonie exotique shown on that date has sadly been lost but thanks to Chaumel’s presentation in an introductory work entitled Symphonie exotique – Pour servir de préface au film, some images from a version of the film edited at a later date can be shown. La Maladie du sommeil – Les Ravages de la mouche tsé-tsé has a different title from 1933 film, but it has been identified by some of the original public as being very similar, if not identical to Le Réveil d’une race.
Béatrice de Pastre – Cinémathèque Robert-Lynen de la Ville de Paris