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Filoteo Alberini (Orte, March 14, 1865 – Rome, April 12, 1937) was an Italian movie director, and one of the earliest pioneers of cinema.


He began working as a handyman in his native town and, after completing the compulsory military service at the Military Engineers Department, he was hired at the Military Geographical Institute of Florence.

In 1894, inspired by Thomas Edison's kinetoscope (a "peepshow" machine which allowed to see moving frames through a lens), he invented and patented the kinetograph, a shooting and projecting device which could show moving images to multiple people simultaneously. Alberini built the kinetograph one year before the cinématograph invented by the Lumière brothers who, in turn, borrowed and expanded the idea for such a device from Léon Bouly. Due to a bureaucratic hitch, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce issued Alberini's patent (No. 245032) one year after Alberini's request, specifically in 1895,[1][2] in the same year when the Lumières projected for the first time Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory. In the New York Times obituary, Filoteo Alberini is recognised as the inventor of motion pictures devices[3]

In 1899, Alberini opens the first Italian movie theatre in Florence. In 1904, he opens 'Cinema Moderno', the first movie theatre in Rome.

Fascinated by his new invention and by the new art form, in 1904 Alberini and his friend Dante Santoni founded the Alberini and Santoni First Italian Manufacturing Company, renamed Cines in 1906. Cines was based in Rome, in the San Giovanni district.

In 1905 he directs La presa di Roma, one of the first Italian films with a big production. The film was 250 meters long (against the average length of that time of 60 meters) and cost 500 lire. The film was divided into seven scenes, each representing some of the episodes of the Capture of Rome, occurred in September 20, 1870. The seven scenes are:

Among Alberini's other inventions there were the 'cinepanoramic' (a revolving lens system that expands the image on the screen, an ancestor of today's Vistavision), the 'cineclock' (a round film disk with many frames that could be viewed with a luminaire manual), and a device to be applied to cameras, a forerunner of sequential shooting.

Selected filmography





  1. ^ Bottomore, Stephen (2002). "Introduction: War and Militarism. Dead White Males". Film History. 14 (3/4): 239–242. JSTOR 3815430.
  2. ^ "Alberini's kinetograph — Italianmedia".
  3. ^ "FILOTEO ALBERINI; Invented Motion-Picture Devices—Perfected Miniature Film". The New York Times. April 1, 1937.