During the first years of cinema, France, the US and the UK were the leading lights. From France, famously, came the Lumiere brothers as well as Georges Méliès. From America came among others Thomas Edison (sometimes referred to as "the thug") and Edwin S. Porter. But the British pioneers are not as well-known generally as their colleagues on the continent or in New York. So here are some names and some films from Britain.
Just look at this early gem, from 1899:
Around the same time came Mitchell & Keynon, the filmmaking team of Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon. They made films all over the place, both documents of life and more fictional things such as slapstick, as well as dramatisations of actual events. They were re-discovered in the middle of 1990s, and a DVD release is available. (Can be bought here)
An important filmmaker was also James Williamson who did experimental stuff such as this film, called The Big Swallow, in 1900:
And of course, there was the wonderful Rescued By Rover from 1905, directed by Lewin Fitzhamon, for Cecil Milton Hepworth's production company. Hepworth and his company were among the most inventive in early cinema. (The acting by the humans here may not be the best, but the dog is great.)
But I've saved the best for last, also from Cecil Milton Hepworth, here's The Explosion of a Motor Car, from 1900. Enjoy!