Black Maria Film Festival [Real Player]
Edison Film and Sound: History of Edison Motion Pictures
Edison National Historic Site: Virtual Tour
Metropolitan Police Service: Black Marias
Questions & Answers: Black Maria
A number of film festivals around the world receive international attention, and are the province of various pop-cultural commentators, tweedy film scholars, and of course, the thousands of beautiful people who actually appear on screen from time to time. This week, a small, yet intriguing film festival celebrated its twenty-five year anniversary, and it is certainly worth a closer look. Founded in 1981 by John Columbus on a shoestring budget, the festival has featured such intriguing short films as “The Man Who Could See Far Enough” and “The Storyboard of My Life”. Unlike a number of other film festivals, the Black Maria Festival travels far and wide for screenings, and over the next couple of months it will visit such locales as Reading, Pennsylvania, Buckhannon, West Virginia, and Baton Rouge. The festival takes its name from a rather interesting device created by the “Wizard of Menlo Park”, Thomas Edison. The “Black Maria” was essentially a large motion picture studio that rotated on a circular wooden track. By doing so, the studio could follow the sun and illuminate the stage during the whole process.
The first link will take users to a National Public Radio story that offers some insights into the festival, along with providing a few clips from a few of the entries that have been submitted over the years. The second link leads to the homepage of the Black Maria festival. Here users can learn about the upcoming festival dates, and also learn a bit about the history of the festival. The third link leads to a fine site from the Library of Congress’s American Memory Project that provides background on Edison’s “Black Maria” invention. The fourth link leads to a site created by the National Park Service where users can take a virtual tour of Edison’s famous laboratory. The fifth link leads to some additional background material from the Metropolitan Police about the sometimes contested origin of the term “Black Maria”. The sixth and final link leads to a rather authoritative exploration of the etymology of “Black Maria” proffered by Michael Quinion.