1902 film shot in Indianapolis becomes National Film Registry | Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A film shot in Indianapolis in 1902 that captures a menagerie of Ringling Bros. circus animals. parading through the city’s downtown landed a spot on the National Film Registry.
The 3-minute silent film, titled “Ringling Bros. Parade Film,” is one of a class of 25 films recently added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. Released by the Selig Polyscope Company in July 1902, it is the 11th longest-running film on record, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported.
It features elephants, camels, and caged lions traveling down Capitol Avenue past the Indiana Statehouse before the parade passes along Washington Street past the future home of the Indiana Repertory Theater.
When announcing this year’s class of films on Dec. 14, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said the black residents seen along the parade route were considered in the film’s selection for the National Film Registry.
“African Americans were rarely shown in films of this era, and only in cartoonish or mocking depictions,” Hayden said.
An Oakland, California couple who said they found the film in their basement in the 1970s donated it to the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont, California in 2011.
David Kiehn, the museum historian, identified the date and location of the film, and the restored version of the museum film was posted on YouTube in October 2020, along with the story of Kiehn’s detective work.
Kiehn said the film is the oldest nitrate print in the museum’s collection of hundreds of films.
“He was in pretty good shape when we got him,” he said. “It held up pretty well.”