The French illusionist and film pioneer Georges Méliès (1861-1938) was not only the inventor of technical film tricks, but also the founder of later film genres such as fantasy and science fiction. Above all he was the forefather of the short feature film: in 1896 he shot “L’escamotage d’une dame chez Robert-Houdin” for his Théâtre Robert-Houdin.
After founding his own film studio and after more than 500 short films Méliès had to give up in 1913. As an ‘independent’ he could not economically assert himself against the new big companies and monopolies like Gaumont, Pathé, Edison or Biograph. In 1938 he died impoverished in Paris. The family of his second wife had his grave in the famous Père Lachaise cemetery renewed in 1954 and erected a bust. Since that time, the grave has been visited by 3.5 million visitors annually, but not renovated.
In March of this year, descendants of Méliès started a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to first renovate the grave and in a second step collect funds to maintain it for twelve years. The campaign by Pascal (great-grandson) and Pauline Duclaud-Lacoste (great-great-granddaughter) was so successful that by the end of April both goals had already been exceeded. The renovation is to start this year and the supporters will receive their rewards in July.
Georges Méliès project page (French/ English): https://www.thegeorgesmeliesproject.org/index.php/homepage
Kickstarter “Save the grave of Georges Méliès, the cinema pioneer” https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2036153312/save-the-grave-of-georges-melies-the-cinema-pionee?
picture credits 1: “Le château hanté”, Georges Méliès, F 1897 © Public Domain