Lieutenant Ira P. Gilette, photographic officer of the 1st Division, A.E.F., in France, April 1918. Signal Corps photograph, courtesy Harry B. Kidd
The conference The Birth of Military Cinemas was organized in Namur, Belgium, on November 30 and December 1 by the Royal Belgian Film Archives, in cooperation with ECPAD, the Mission Centenaire 14-18 France and the Universities of Namur and Picardie. With contributions by leading film historians representing most of the European countries that were belligerents during the Great War our presentation focused on the official military cinematographers that accompanied the American Expeditionary Force in France, how these men were trained, improvements in camera technique, the conditions at the front while filming the Great War and the uneasy relationship between the U.S. Signal Corps that was officialy assigned to cover the war and the Committee on Public Information (CPI), America's wartime propaganda agency.
Based on our book American Cinematographers in the Great War, we did additional research for this presentation on the Signal Corps films of World War I. We edited the results into a film presentation and showed this short documentary for the first time during the conference on December 1. Enjoy this web launch!
A publication in print containing all presentations for this conference on the history of military cinematography will be published early 2018.
Also, here is an abridged version of the film script for this documentary, translated into French.