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Film society

Related: art house films - film


A film society is a membership club where people can watch films which would otherwise not be shown in mainstream cinemas. Famous film societies include Amos Vogel's Cinema 16 and the Cinémathèque Française. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_society [Nov 2005]

New York Film Society

In 1953, that's when I [Jonas Mekas] started the first screenings of what was called at that time Experimental Films. I showed the Whitney Brothers, Gregory Markopoulos, Kenneth Anger. I started my own screenings at Gallery East, which was on Avenue A and 1st street. As you can see, I didn't move very far... Or on Ludlow Street, in the loft of a woman by the name of Dorothy Brown. She had weekend screenings on Ludlow Street. And Gideon Bachmann was running the Film Study Group, which I joined. I helped to write notes. Once a week or so, or every two weeks, we had screenings, usually with filmmakers present. And it goes. Actually, the second evening when I came to New York, when I landed here, I was already at the movies. I saw THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (1928) and THE CABINET OF DOCTOR CALIGARI (1920) on 16th street or somewhere, at the New York Film Society run by Rudolf Arnheim. --http://www.cinemadmag.com/print_issue_six_jonas_mekas.htm [Aug 2004]

Cinémathèque Française [...]

Henri Langlois founded the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris during the 1930's to preserve the art of silent film. Talkies had just been introduced, and the art of cinematic pantomime was rapidly being forgotten. The Cinematheque grew into the world's most prestigious film society, with an impressive screening program and exhibitions on all aspects of film-making. It's also known for being the place where French 'New Wave' filmmakers like Francois Truffaut hung out and learned their craft. --Cinematheque Francaise [Oct 2004]

Cinema 16 (1947 - 1963) [...]

Amos Vogel created the path-breaking film society Cinema 16 in 1947, introducing a continent to previously unseen worlds of experience.

British film society

The origins of both the British film society movement and the art house/repertory cinema sector lie in the creation, in 1925, of The Film Society to screen important foreign pictures that were not being shown in Britain. Its organisers included the film critics Iris Barry and Ivor Montagu and the filmmaker Adrian Brunel, while George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells were among the founder members.

The private Sunday afternoon screenings, which took place at cinemas in the West End of London, became very popular, attracting over 1,500 people. They introduced the latest developments in technique and subject matter from abroad by showing such films as Die Freudlose Gasse (Joyless Street, Germany, d. G.W. Pabst, 1925) and Berlin: Die Sinfonie Der Grosstadt (Berlin: Symphony of a City, Germany, d. Walter Ruttmann, 1927). Important new Russian productions, banned by the Censor, were imported and film-makers like Vsevolod Pudovkin and Sergei Eisenstein introduced their work in person, amid accusations that the Society was politically motivated. Many historically significant films were also revived, including examples of German expressionism like Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Germany, d. Robert Wiene, 1919).

Then, in 1928, Elsie Cohen hired a run-down cinema in the centre of London for a year and successfully showed many recent Russian and German films. She next persuaded the owner of another cinema, in Oxford Street, to let her relaunch it as the Academy with a similar policy. It became the first and most prestigious British art house cinema with such successes as Kameradschaft (Germany, d. G.W. Pabst, 1931) and La Grande Illusion (France, d. Jean Renoir, 1937). The moderne-style Curzon in Mayfair was built as a rival in 1934. Many other cinemas played foreign films at times but the only other purpose-built art house was the Cosmo in Glasgow (opened 1939). A plan to open branches of the Academy in towns like Leeds was scuppered by World War Two, when bomb damage closed the London cinema as well until 1944.

Another specialised area of film exhibition was repertory programming, as practised by chains like the Classic Cinemas, while the Everyman Hampstead achieved an international reputation for reviving foreign and English-language films to an art house standard. The Film Society continued to fill in gaps among old and new films until 1939, regularly featuring new British documentaries.--http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/cinemas/sect5.html [Oct 2004]

BFI: British Film Institute [...]

In 1959, the BFI combined the opening of a new, purpose-built National Film Theatre with the launching of the London Film Festival, designed as a non-competitive showcase of films presented at other festivals. The LFF soon began adding its own choices and has steadily grown in scope and size to the present day. The NFT continued to combine retrospectives with seasons of new work. --http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/cinemas/sect5.html [Oct 2004]

The institute was founded in 1933. Despite its foundation resulting from a recommendation in a report on Film and National Life, at that time the institute was a private company, though it has received public money throughout its history - from the Privy Council and Treasury until 1965 and the various culture departments since then. The institute was restructured following the Radcliffe Report of 1948 which recommended that the institute should concentrate on developing the appreciate on the films art, rather than creating film itself. Thus control of educational film production passed to the National Committee for Visual Aids in Education and the British Film Academy assumed control for promoting production.

The institute finally received a Royal Charter in 1983. It was updated in 2000, when the Film Council was created to govern its activities. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Film_Institute [Oct 2004]

Koninklijk Belgische Filmarchief / Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique / Royal Belgian Film Archives

The Film Archive was created in the PSK in 1938. It is one of the oldest and richest film archives in the world. The collection includes short and full-length films, fiction and documentaries. In 1962, the Film Museum was given a permanent niche in the PSK. There, the collection is brought to life in two theatres. Each day, five films are shown: three talking pictures and two silent films with live piano accompaniment. Tuesday is reserved for Belgian films, children’s matinees take place on Sunday and Thursday is the day for the classics. Each month, the programme follows three themes and regularly pays tribute to a particular director. In addition to the public screenings, the museum also organises guided tours, private screenings, seminars and courses in film history and film analysis. http://www.filmarchief.be [Jul 2004]

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