The Brilliant Biograph wins FOCAL Award for Best Archive Restoration & Preservation Project

The Brilliant Biograph, Mills of the Zaan Region (GB & NL, 1898) (c) Eye Filmmuseum

The Brilliant Biograph has won the FOCAL Award 2021 in the category ‘Best Archive Restoration & Preservation Project’. These recordings from the early years of cinema rank among the most richly detailed images in film history. The compilation transports viewers back to around 1900, when cities such as Berlin, Amsterdam and London were undergoing rapid growth. Of incomparable beauty are the shots of an enchanting Venice, a tourist destination reserved for the happy few at the time. The film can be watched free of charge on the Eye Film Player. 

The Brilliant Biograph: Earliest Moving Images of Europe (1897-1902) is a magnificent compilation of recordings from the collection of the Mutoscope and Biograph Company, one of the first film companies. The images take you back 120 years in time to Venice, Berlin and Amsterdam, letting you experience the excitement of the first film footage.

Some 50 films by the Mutoscope and Biograph Company held in the collections of Eye and the British Film Institute (BFI) have been digitally restored thanks to support from the European Committee. These one-minute time capsules – shot on 68mm nitrate – are renowned for their excellent resolution. To demonstrate the stunning technology of cameras and projectors, recordings were made of fast-moving metropolitan life, spectacular landscapes and sports eventsDaan van den Hurk composed and recorded a piano score specially for this 52-minute film.


The Brilliant Biograph has been screened in cinemas around the country and was selected for international festivals in Berlin, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, Pordenone, Copenhagen, Warsaw, Paris, Lyon, Istanbul, Sheffield and Valencia.


About the FOCAL Award

With the annual Focal Awards, FOCAL International (Federation of Commercial Audiovisual Libraries) in London honours film archives, image libraries, producers, researchers and service providers that work with archive films. The FOCAL International Restoration and Preservation Project Award won by The Brilliant Biograph is aimed at archives and/or technical facilities that have restored and conserved moving images from an archive for a project that connects a number of films together.


Press reactions to The Brilliant Biograph

The Brilliant Biograph lets us discover the origins not just of cinema but also of our modern world, creating a magical moment that evokes emotions that cinema alone can offer.’ (A la rencontre du Septième Art)

‘The first images of Europe. They are touching, impressive and sparkling.’ (NRC Handelsblad)

‘A stunning flashback in black-and-white’ (De Telegraaf)

‘Very sharp and detailed image that still astonishes after 120 years’ (de Filmkrant)

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