14/4/1897: Braving the Yellow Peril
Film arrived in Colombia in 1897 during the brief interlude between the end of its civil war and the start of the Thousand Days War in 1899. The films, shown on an Edison Vitascope, were part of a travelling magic show operated by a M. Balabrega and (probably) called the Universal Variety Company, and they made their debut in the city of Colon, in the store of A. James & Co, on Wednesday the 14th April 1897. Five days later, on the 19th, Balabrega and his show arrived in the city of Panama. The shows were popular in both cities, although audiences were not as large as they might have been as many of the wealthier members of these cities were away on holiday, and a yellow fever epidemic depleted the audience’s numbers even further. In fact, it is believed that the company left Colombia for Costa Rica on the 3rd May to escape the epidemic.
A few weeks later, on the 13th June, Gabriel Veyre, a representative of the Lumieres, arrived in the port of Colombo with his cinematograph. Veyre also established himself in the city of Panama, where he held screenings on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays until the 1st of July. The following day, Veyre departed for Venezuala.
Further screenings were held in Colombia in the cities of Bogota (at the Municipal Theatre), Bucaramanga (on the 21st August) and Cartagena in August and September, probably by Manuel Trujillo, an Edison representative. [ADD]
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