A. (?) Konstantinovich Fedetsky

Ukrainian photographer, cameraman

Fedetsky was a professional photographer of renown who owned a large studio in the centre of Kharkov. Since the late 1880s he had been experimenting with the Edison Phonograph, trying to achieve better results in the quality of recording and even experimenting with stereophonic sound. In the summer of 1896 while travelling abroad he noted the success of 'the living photography' and brought the Chronophotographe 60 mm camera of Georges Demen˙ directly from Gaumont, apparently signing a concessionary contract. After a short period of training he calculated that he could become the permanent correspondent of the French company in southern Russia, and from September 1896 his activities are well recorded in the local press. On 19 September he filmed The Religious Procession Carrying over the Miraculous Icon of the Virgin in the Kharkov Kuryazh Monastery, and within a fortnight had shot The Fancy Riding of the 1st Orenburg Kossack Regiment. The third film made by Fedetsky, The Sight of the Kharkov Railway Station at the Moment of a Train's Departure with the Command at the Platform was produced in October and transferred the most famous of Lumière subjects to Russian soil. At the beginning of 1897 Fedetsky is known to have shot Skating at Red Square, Kharkov and Public Outdoor Fete at Mews Square, Kharkov. Though Fedetsky would have taken more films than these, the documentary evidence is missing. Fedetsky had no technical facilities, and it is obvious that he had to use the Gaumont laboratories. From this one may presume that most or even all of his films were designed for release in France as well, though there is no definite evidence of this.

The first public screening of Fedetsky's films was on 2 November 1896 at the Kharkov Opera House, in a mixed programme of his and Gaumont productions during a pause in The Barber of Seville. This and later shows brought Fedetsky acclaim and financial success. He also organised several charity screenings to benefit the poor of Kharkov and toured throughout the Ukraine. On 20-25 November 1897, for instance, he put on film shows at Kiev's Bergonier Theatre alternating with dramatic plays by Ukrainian actors. In February 1898 he signed a contract with Kiev's Solovtsov Theatre during his great tour throughout the Volga region and Siberia, but there are no signs of the success of this enterprise, while there were by now a number of competitors for the Fedetsky film shows. It would appear that commercial failure in the course of 1898 led to the break of the contract with Gaumont and the end of Fedetsky's career as a filmmaker. Nothing is known of him in the following years.

Rashit Yangirov