Eugène Py

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Eugène Py

Eugène Py (19 May 1859 – 26 August 1924) was a major early French cameraman, cinematographer and film director and is widely considered the founding pioneer of the Cinema of Argentina.

Born in Carcassonne, Aude, Languedoc-Roussillon, France he moved to Buenos Aires in the late 1880s.

He began working for the Belgian Henri Lepage and the Austrian Max Glücksmann at the 'Casa Lepage', a photographic supplies business in Buenos Aires. The three all saw the debut of the Lumière Cinématographe in Argentina, in Buenos Aires on 28 July 1896, at the Teatro Odéon.

Lepage then imported the first French cinematographic equipment into the country. In 1897, using a Gaumont camera, Py (known as Eugenio Py in South America) subsequently shot what was for some time considered the first Argentine film, of the Flag of Argentina, La Bandera Argentina (nowadays it's known that a German named Federico Figner screened three short views of the city of Buenos Aires before Py's). Py continued to produce films for exhibition at the Casa Lepage for several years, working as part of the cross-national film production, distribution and exhibition system developed by Glücksmann in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile.

Py's early films included Visita del Dr Campos Salles a Buenos Aires (1900) (the first Argentine documentary, and La Revista de la Escuadra Argentina and Visita del general Mitre al Museo Históric (1901). Py introduced the concept of recording history in the making in Argentina, by filming the arrival of the Brazilian president at the time accompanied by the Argentine president, and filming Alberto Santos-Dumont during a small recording that went on to capture what is probably the first "gag" in the country's history (a third man kept standing between Py and Dumont, interrupting the film, until he received a spit in the face, upon which recording finished).

He died in 1924 in San Martín, Buenos Aires.