THE ARRIVAL OF CINEMA IN CRETE: TRACING THE FIRST FILM SHOWINGS IN THE ISLAND DURING THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY
Having explored early cinema screenings in Heraklion in previous papers, in this one I am expanding my research to the other cities of Crete, in an attempt to determine the time of the first appearance of cinema and trace its expansion throughout the main urban centers of the island.
My two main sources were newspaper archives and amateur historian George Fthenakis’s book on the cinemas of Rethimno and Chania, the only one of its kind, but unfortunately I could not locate a useful source regarding the prefecture of Lassithi. Nevertheless, as scarce as the findings may be, they remain quite revealing, raising questions both by themselves and by comparison to previous findings regarding Heraklion.
It should be noted that that the earliest cinema screening recorded in Heraklion took place in September 1909, quite a few years later than Chania and Rethimno, as this new research has come to show. Specifically, according to Fthenakis, the first screening in Rethimno took place in January 1905, while the earliest recorded screening in Chania took place even earlier, in January 1900.
Fthenakis’s conclusions have to be read skeptically, since he provides no specific reference to sources for each of his claims. Regarding Rethimno, local newspapers of the early 20th century did not have cinema listings, so I could not verify his claim of 1905, which for the time being will have to suffice as a cautious starting-point for cinema in Rethimno. Regarding Chania, the earliest listing I found was indeed published in 1900, but in December instead of January. However, I do not think this proves Fthenakis was necessarily wrong, because the casual way in which the listing referred to cinema shows it was a form of entertainment the public was already familiar with.
While further research is required, for the time being we only have a tentative idea regarding the emergence of cinema in Crete, with the earliest recorded showings in Chania in 1900, in Rethimno in 1905 and in Heraklion in 1909.