"Serge Bromberg presenting 100 years of animation" at the Alliance Française.
First, let's address the title. It's a peculiar nationalism that has caused the nation of France to completely disregard J. Stuart Blackton's 1906 "Humorous Phases of Funny Faces" (we'll call his "Enchanted Drawing" from 1900 a trickfilm, not "animation") in favor of the younger "Fantasmagorie" by Emile Cohl.
You could argue that "Fantasmagorie" is a better animation. The claim isn't "Fantasmagorie is the first animation that doesn't suck", you'd have to go many years deep into the 20th Century to find that.
Bromberg mentioned a recently discovered Russian film which predates Cohl's work, but I haven't heard anything about it.
Delphine, sitting in front of me, advanced the claim that Emile Reynaud created the first animation. Bendazzi offers a few pages on Reynaud and comes down clearly on the side that his work was not film (therefore not animation). I'll side with Giannalberto on this one.
The highlight of the evening was a crazy film that I had never heard of by two French guys I'd never of.
Joie de Vivre's design is drawn from Art Deco (contemporary, although dying in popularity, at the time). Almost immediately after it 1934 release it was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art.
The filmmakers, Anthony Gross and Hector Hoppin (Amid Amidi says he's the financier -I haven't seen anything to confirm or deny this) created a stream of consciousness piece that is threaded with by a chase scene and punctuated with visual puns.