If this is your first visit to our site, please make sure to read the following notes. (Clicking on a headline will open or close the chapters.)

About the databases

The German Early Cinema Databases contain data related to film supply, distribution, exhibition and reception in Germany between 1895 and 1926. Please note that only very few of these films are extant, and that we do not have copies of the films themselves. For information on extant copies, please consult the FIAF database and the archives of the FIAF members.


Please note that the fairground cinema database, which still runs under the interface created in the Siegen research project, works differently than the film supply database, the programme database and the documents database, which all run under the new interface created in the Cologne research project. For the fairground cinema database, please refer to the documentation there. The following only pertains to the databases accessed through the new interface.

How do I navigate through the website?

It is not possible to use the “back” and “forward” buttons of the browser. You can change databases and start new queries by clicking on headers. The main header, “The German Early Cinema Database” will take you back to the index page.

How are the databases linked?

Only the film supply database and the film programme database are linked, and only to a limited extent, so that most searches have to be conducted separately in each database. The supply database was used as one of the main sources to identify the film titles that appear in the programme database. Hence wherever possible the film titles that appear in the programme database are linked to the supply database, so that further information on these films will appear when you click on them. Conversely, the entries of the films in the supply database contain screenings from the programme database whenever any were found in the sample. However, note that only the selected database is searched. For example, when a search for a certain actor is conducted in the programme database, only the programmes that mention the actor’s name will be found (not screenings of his films where his name wasn’t mentioned). To find the screenings of all of his films in the sample, you would have to search for the actor in the supply database and tick the checkbox "Is in Programme Database", which will limit the results to films that appear in the programme database.

How do I browse the data?

When you enter the database that interests you, you will find a list of all entries on the left hand side. You can sort these according to various criteria (alphabetically, year), so that you do not have to scroll through all of them.

How do I perform searches?

You perform a search by entering the database that interests you and clicking on “Show search and filter options” in the top left corner. You enter a single term in the search field (eg an actor’s last name) or several (eg a film title). You can combine search terms with Boolean operators (see “Which Boolean operators are available?”). You can then either click on the green button “Filter” to start your search, or you can limit your results from the outset by clicking on various filter options (period, country of origin etc.). For example, when searching for a certain actor in the supply database, you may not want to see all of his films, but only those produced before the 1920s. A list of your results will appear on the left hand side. When you click on individual entries, details will appear on the right hand side.

Which Boolean operators are available?

no operator
search term is optional

+ in front of search term
search term must be contained in result

- in front of search term
search term should not be contained in result

* after search term

“ ”around search terms
exact phrase only

( ) around search terms and operators
for structuring search syntax that contains several operators

How do I perform statistical analyses?

In the supply and programme databases, after you have performed a search, you can click on “Analyse current result (statistics)” on the top left hand side. The statistical trends of your results will then be presented in a table, according to various criteria that you can choose (year, country of origin, production company). For example, after you have searched for films of a certain genre, you may be interested in how this genre developed over time, or which countries predominantly produced films of that genre. Many other analyses can (and must) be done manually.

How do I download results?

After you have performed a search in the documents database you can add your results to an RTF document, either all of the results (“Add all to export list” at the top on the left hand side) or only a few by selecting them individually (“Add to export list” above the individual results on the right hand side). After you have finished adding results, you can download this file (“Export all documents to RTF document” at the bottom of your export list, or “Export to RTF document” at the top on the right hand side if you only want to download individual entries). Tables created with the statistical analysis function can also be downloaded, in CSV format.

Where can I find further information?

There are descriptions of data fields and functions throughout the databases that you can make visible by clicking on them. For the fairground cinema database, please refer to the documentation that you find upon entry.


This website is maintained by the research project “Visuelle Gemeinschaften: Verhältnisse des Lokalen, Nationalen und Globalen im frühen Kino“ (“Visual Communities: Relationships of the Local, National, and Global in Early Cinema“), which is funded by the DFG (German Research Foundation) and is situated at the University of Cologne, Germany.

Joseph Garncarz
c/o Universität zu Köln
Institut für Medienkultur und Theater
Meister-Ekkehart-Str. 11
50937 Köln


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