Exactly 120 years after the first motion pictures were shown to the public of Syros, these images of a bygone era are making a return.
On August 1, the Nisaki space in Ermoupoli will be screening films made in 1900 for the Kinetoscope, as a precursor to the 8th Syros International Film Festival (SIFF), which will take place from September 3 to 6.
In 1900, Ermoupoli was the second city in Greece to host the screening of a motion picture, only two years after Athens and three years after Thessaloniki, which at the time was part of the Ottoman Empire. The cosmopolitan character of turn-of-the-century Ermoupoli and subsequent early film culture is something that SIFF is seeking to conserve, and this is compounded by their choice of venue, Nisaki, which served as a key part of the city at the time, housing a theater, café and one of the first hydrotherapy clinics in Greece.
These early films – also called “Cinema of Attractions” – required small mobile Kinetoscopes, which were often wheeled into cafés or plazas, where a communal atmosphere of fascination would form around this new medium.
SIFF was founded in 2013 with the purpose of removing cinema from its usual setting and industry hierarchy and instead placing it on the Aegean island of Syros. SIFF is a film festival for unique and experimental cinematic experiences where the permanent backdrop is the Aegean dreamscape.
Over its eight-year tenure the festival has hosted both Greek and international films while it also hosts workshops and extended cinema performances. SIFF has become a local favorite and its signature drive-in cinema will be set up for a sixth consecutive year.