This coming week early cinema abounds in Chicago

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The 1906 French short Obsession dOr screens Saturday night as part of the conferences first film program.
  • The 1906 French short Obsession d'Or screens Saturday night as part of the conference's first film program.
Domitor, an international organization for scholars of early cinema, has chosen Chicago for the site of its latest biennial conference. Beginning Saturday and running through Wednesday, the conference brings together academics from across North America and Europe to speak on films from 1890-1915. Also scheduled are four programs of early films. The first two take place at the Logan Center for the Arts at U. of C. on Saturday, starting at 7:15 PM, and the second two will screen at Northwestern University's Block Museum on Monday, starting at 7:30 PM.

On Wednesday at 8 PM Northwestern will host another program, organized by Northwest Chicago Film Society and introduced by USC film archivist Dino Everett, of films made on the short-lived 28-millimeter format. Though not officially part of the Domitor conference, this free event surely will interest early-cinema aficionados and fans of the esoteric. "Developed at a time when 35-millimeter motion picture film was synonymous with nitrate fires and the annihilating spirit of modernity," reads a description on the NCFS website, "the 28-millimeter gauge was a non-flammable alternative marketed to schools, churches, and the private domain."

Other local organizations were involved with two of the official programs. The Night Sky, screening Saturday at 8:30 PM, is a contemporary variation on precinematic "magic lantern" shows, featuring vintage lantern slides from the Adler Planetarium archive. Chicago Film Archives provided some restored 35-millimeter footage for the second Monday night program, a partial reconstruction of an illustrated lecture from 1904 called A Pictorial Story of Hiawatha. Check out the Domitor website for a full schedule. Below are some of the works playing at the Logan Center on Saturday.

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