Off the Shelf: National Short Film Day

Posted Dec. 8, 2020

By Matthew York, Adult Services Librarian with the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library

Many all-around movie fans and independent-film junkies will be observing National Short Film Day December 28th. Questions? We have answers!

Q. What is National Short Film Day celebrating and why is it held when it is?
A. “On December 28th, National Short Film Day commemorates the day the motion picture industry was born, when the Lumière brothers projected a program of short films to a public audience for the first time […] in 1895 at the Grand Café in Paris. Two brothers, Auguste and Louis Lumière, lit a spark of fascination in front of a paying audience of 33 customers. […] The two pioneers presented 10 short films, each about 50 seconds in length, to the amazement of all those in attendance.” (“National Short Film Day – December 28”).

Q. What organization is responsible for this holiday?
A. “[A company called] Film Movement founded National Short Film Day in 2019 and celebrated its first observance on December 28, 2019. They created the day to celebrate the impact of the short film and to commemorate its long and enduring history.” (“National Short Film Day – December 28”).

Q. Who contributed to the early days of movies?
A. “English photographer Eadweard Muybridge […] created a sequential photo projector — the zoogyroscope — in 1879 [and then projecting] his photos to an enthralled San Francisco audience [in 1880]. […] In 1888 in New York City, […] inventor Thomas Edison and his British assistant William Dickson […] set out to create a device that could record moving pictures. In 1890 Dickson unveiled the Kinetograph, a primitive motion picture camera. In 1892 he announced the invention of the Kinestoscope, a machine that could project the moving images onto a screen. In 1894, Edison initiated public film screenings in recently-opened ‘Kinetograph Parlors.’ […] In 1895, Auguste and Louis Lumière introduced the Cinématographe, a projector that could show 16 frames per second. In their public cinema, audiences were spellbound by the films of simple movement and action: images of a baby eating, a hose squirting water, and the workers pouring out of the Lumière factory.” (Pickford).

Q. What are the names of some movies from the earliest stages of movie production?
A. Various filmmakers made early short films, such as: The Black Diamond Express (1896), The Great Train Robbery (1903), Life of an American Fireman (1903), The Little Train Robbery (1905), and The Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (1906) (Hamid 66-67).

Q. What was the name of the first “talkie”?
A. “Alan Crosland [directed] the first talkie The Jazz Singer (1927)” (Hamid 66-67). “Talkies” meant movies that synchronized recorded image with recorded sound, an innovation of the late 1920s.

Q. How can I use the library to celebrate National Short Film Day?
A. Check out any of these books about film criticism and the motion picture industry from our library today:

  • 1001 Movies You must See Before You Die (2019) by general editor, Steven Jay Schneider; updated by Ian Haydn Smith
  • A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator’s Rise to Power (2015) by Paul Fischer
  • American Cinema: One Hundred Years of Filmmaking (1994) by Jeanine Basinger
  • Bollywood: The Films! the Songs! the Stars! (2017) by DK Publishing
  • Can I Go Now?: The Life of Sue Mengers, Hollywood’s First Superagent (2015) by Brian Kellow
  • Christmas in the Movies: 30 Classics to Celebrate the Season (2018) by Jeremy Arnold
  • Do the Movies have a Future? (2012) by David Denby
  • Easy Rider: 50 Years Looking for America (2020) by Steven Bingen
  • Forbidden Hollywood: The Pre-Code Era (1930-1934): When Sin Ruled the Movies (2019) by Mark A. Vieira
  • Hollywood Black: The Stars, the Films, the Filmmakers (2019) by Donald Bogle
  • Hollywood, Her Story: An Illustrated History of Women and the Movies (2019) by Jill S. Tietjen and Barbara Bridges
  • Hooked on Hollywood: Discoveries from a Lifetime of Film Fandom (2018) by Leonard Maltin
  • Music in the Shadows: Noir Musical Films (2014) by Sheri Chinen Biesen
  • Nobody Does It Better: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of James Bond (2020) by Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross
  • Stephen King at the Movies: A Complete History of the Film and Television Adaptations from the Master of Horror (2019) by Ian Nathan
  • The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustrated History (2017) edited by Stephen Jones
  • The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies (2018) by Ben Fritz
  • The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies and Why They Matter (2016) by Jeremy Arnold
  • The Essentials: 52 More Must-See Movies and Why They Matter. Vol. 2 (2020) by Jeremy Arnold
  • The Movie Book (2020) by DK Publishing; Danny Leigh, consultant editor
  • The Wizard of Oz: 75 Years along the Yellow Brick Road (2014) by Life Books
  • We’ll Always have Casablanca: The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood’s Most Beloved Movie (2017) by Noah Isenberg

You can also browse our collection of DVDs and Blu-ray discs, as well as downloadable videos available through our Digital Library.

Works Cited:
Hamid, Rahul. “Edison: The Invention of the Movies.” Cineaste, vol. 30, no. 4, Fall 2005, pp. 66–67. EBSCOhost
“National Short Film Day – December 28.” National Day Calendar
Pickford, Mary. “The Early History of Motion Pictures.” Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)