Films and seminars on the 100th anniversary of his death.

He was able to inspire a generation of young Catholics in reformed Basel: Abbé Joye (1852 - 1919), youth chaplain, photographer, cineaste - and founder of the first Basel cinema. On the 100th anniversary of his death, the work of the Jesuit comes alive once again: The aki Zurich commemorates him with the documentary film "A propos de Joye", the Lassalle House with seminars distributed throughout the year.

Joseph Alexis Joye is born on 18 April 1852 in Romont FR as the first of five sons. The father dies when he is eleven. Financially the family has probably little worries. Joseph transferred to the St. Michel grammar school in Fribourg. Even the 17-year-old expressed the desire to become a Jesuit. He is admitted to the novitiate. He then studied in Germany, Holland, Belgium and England, interrupted by the medical service he had to provide during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. In 1882 he was ordained a priest. He would have liked to have become a missionary overseas, but his superiors sent him to Basel. He became vicar in the parish of St. Clara, then in the new parish of St. Mary, where he took care of the French-speaking Catholics. During the 25 years of his ministry his focus shifted to youth work; from 1911 to 1915 he was also provincial in the German-speaking area.

Youth Chaplain, Photographer, Cineast

Abbé Joye conquered the hearts of Basel's Catholic school youth in a short space of time. Especially in Sunday school he was able to develop his abilities to the full. He knows how to tell exciting stories from the Bible, and in his narrative theology his hobby comes to the fore: photography. Eyewitnesses remember the slatted crate in the attic of the parsonage - his darkroom, where he cuts photo plates with a diamond made of window glass remains. Old crockery is used for film development, a bathtub for washing the developed plates. He collects his pictures in books and magazines. He creates 16,000 hand-colored slides for school and adult education - his Tuesday lectures are legendary. One employee reports: "Mr. Abbé mostly photographed and developed all the pictures himself and sacrificed rest and sleep for his slides. He particularly enjoyed painting the pictures. It was a pleasure to watch him transform the black and white slides with a sure brush stroke."

Joye maintained contact with the chemist Auguste Lumière in Lyon, the inventor of the cinematograph, and with "Pathé Frères" in Paris and Berlin, the first film company. In 1901 he came to his first short film strip, from 1905 he regularly showed movies - only two years later there was the cinema "Fata Morgana" in Basel. A film distributor doesn't exist yet, you have to buy the movies. Abbé Joye procured new ones from everywhere. This creates a collection of over 2000 films.

Abbé founds the Vinzentianum Orphanage and the Borromäum Youth Home. He fought against much resistance for the construction of a hall in Borromäum, where a diverse activity developed: The Jünglingsverein stages theatre and music performances, with the father always being the driving force. From the "scientific student circle", founded by him in 1907, the academic association "Renaissance" later developed.

On 1 March 1919 Joseph Joye died at the age of 67. He is buried above Zug, in the Jesuit cemetery near the Lassalle House.

The Joye Collection

Of the films Joye collected, around 1200 have survived today. In 1976 the Jesuit Stefan Bamberger handed over the collection to the "National Film Archive" in London for professional restoration. The Joye Collection is considered a sensation in film circles. For the film historian Mariann Lewinsky-Sträuli it documents "in a unique way" the history of film production in its most dynamic phase of development and through it "the world and culture of its epoch". The collection contains milestones in the early history of cinema that had long been thought lost.

The copies are all in 35 mm format. "It would be great if a project could be realized so that the Joye films could be made available to the general public on restored film copies in saved colors," says Beat Schneider, Deputy Director of the Stadtkino Basel institution.

Hansruedi Kleiber SJ, Franz-Xaver Hiestand SJ


On the 100th anniversary of the death of Abbé Joye SJ:

“Speaking of Joye”: Documentary film by Isolde Marxer

Friday, 15 March 2019, 19.30 hrs
aki Zurich, Hirschengraben 86, Zurich | aki-zh.ch
Jesuits as film pioneers and main characters in films

Seminar on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the death of Abbé Joye SJ
Saturday, 16 March 2019, 15 - 22 o'clock
aki Zurich, Hirschengraben 86 | aki-zh.ch


Work with films

Moving and moving images

Retreats with Films: Christof Wolf SJ and Franz-Xaver Hiestand SJ explore the inspiring power of contemporary films in this special form of Ignatian retreats in the best Abbé Joye tradition.

Spiritual Exercises with Films
13 - 18 October 2019, Sun 17 - Fri 13 hrs

Registration: www.lassalle-haus.org