Auguste François (1857-1935) was French Consul in southern China between 1896 and 1904, first in Guangxi province, then in Yunnan. He undertook several exploration trips throughout southern China, following the course of major rivers like the Yangtse from Yunnan to Shanghai. He also visited eastern Tibet.
François became famous for an episode during the ‘Boxer Rebellion’ in 1900. His consulate at Yunnan-Fu (today Kunming) was under siege, and he had given missionaries refuge there as well. He managed to hold out for more than a month, then he guided 20 people to safety to Tonkin, where they arrived after a 12-day march.
François’ name is also associated with the railway line from Vietnam to Kunming, since he was in charge of the negotiations for the concession.
He was a keen photographer, and took photographic and cine film cameras with him on his expeditions.
The film in the Pitt Rivers collection was taken in Yunnan between 1902 and 1904, and it is probably the earliest film taken in China.
Accession Number: 1976.4.1