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Switzerland

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Women Screenwriters

Abstract

In 1895, the year following its debut in London and Paris, the Edison Kinetoscope delivered the first moving photographic images to Swiss viewers, with 1896 constituting the annus mirabilis for the new medium. In the same year, the Geneva-based Casmir Sivan who, with E. Dalphin, built and patented in Switzerland a camera/projector device, projected moving images in the Edison Pavilion at the Swiss National Exhibition held in Geneva. As elsewhere in Switzerland, travelling fairground film entertainment promoters such as Georges Hipleh-Walt, Jean Weber-Clément, and Louis Praiss gradually displaced the early film pioneers. Their ambulatory production facilities, with on-site outdoor filming, developing, and projection, presented the Swiss public with a constant stream of actualités — on a scale that was itself an attraction. The Salon-Cinématographe of Hipleh-Walt, for example, featured a transportable cinema, 98 feet long and 33 feet wide, with a 126 square foot projection screen, and room for 800 spectators. An early travelling film entrepreneur, Marguerite Wallenda (1882–1952), founded a moving cinema in 1905, in which she conceived and filmed street scenes and cityscapes in the northwestern Swiss town of Biel/Bienne, travelled to Paris to develop the negative, and quickly returned to project the filmed scenes for their astounded amateur subjects. In 1912, Wallenda received an official commission to record the visit of German Emperor Wilhelm II to Switzerland, a film document that is regarded as a precursor to the ‘film weeklies’ that were to flourish across Europe in permanent indoor cinemas only a few years later.

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© 2015 Michael Burri

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Burri, M. (2015). Switzerland. In: Nelmes, J., Selbo, J. (eds) Women Screenwriters. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137312372_41

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