Film Society reels in the crowds

Fast forward one year and the Roe Valley Community Film Society continues to reel in the crowds with its wide and varied movie screenings.

Formed last year, with its inaugual screening on January 25, dozens of movie enthusiasts have been attending the showings, which take place at least once a month in the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre.

“When the Film Society was initially discussed we had no idea whether or not it would be possible to make it a success,” says President Philip Kingston.

“The attendance at the screenings over the last year has therefore been extremely pleasing. In March 2011 the Film Society offered an annual membership. Members were then granted free admission to films. Whilst membership schemes of this nature are common amongst community Film Societies, upon reflection the scheme has probably hindered membership as it was simply was not economically sensible for people to join the Film Society later in the year. The vast majority of people who have therefore attended screenings over the course of the year have been non-members who have paid at the door.”

In the last 12 months, the Society has shown a variety of films from ‘An Education’ to the classic ‘Casablanca’ attracting 50-strong crowds, as well as foreign language movies, including “Pans Labyrinth” and “Tell No One”.

So what is it that lures people to watch movies courtesy of the Society as opposed to just renting them from the local movie rental store?

“The Film Society offers a unique viewing experience,” explains Philip.

“It offers the opportunity to view these films on a large screen and with cinema quality sound. Each screening has a very brief introduction from a member of the Film Society or the occasional guest speaker. Some potential visitors to the Film Society may have been put off by the concern that these introductions would be too much of a lecture. The introductions are, however, no more than five minutes in length and are usually light hearted. There is always an opportunity to discuss the film over a cup of coffee in Café Piazza afterwards but this is entirely optional.”

Limavady used to have its own movie house, The Regal, on Catherine Street, but it sadly closed some years ago and is now a bingo hall.

“There are large multiplexes nearby in Coleraine and Derry. These mean that the people of Limavady are reasonably well served for blockbuster films. The commercial pressures that attach to the local multiplexes mean that they are not always able to show the kinds of films that the Film Society screens,” says Philip.

The Nerve Centre and the Magic Lantern Film Society in the city provide “the closest thing the North West would have to Art House Cinema”, says Philip.

“Limavady’s Film Society offers a more middle ground approach, screening films such “Made in Dagenham”, “The Town”, “Tamara Drew” and “The Big Chill” that perhaps could only achieve a very limited cinema release in the North West,” he says.

Helping make sure the Society works is Limavady Borough Council, which Philip says they are hugely indebted to “and in particular to the staff at the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre for the support that they have provided to the Film Society over the course of the year”.

“Without the help and assistance of the Civil Centre staff the Film Society could not proceed. A small grant was provided by Limavady Borough Council to assist with the setting up of the Society and a great deal of assistance in kind has also been provided. In return we believe that the Film Society has provided a valuable resource that Limavady was previously lacking. Particular thanks are due to Eileen Magee at Limavady Borough Council and Desima McConnelly and the long suffering Darryl Harkin at the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre. Thanks are also due to Julie Brolly at Café Piazza who ensures that the café is open before and after each screening so that members are fully refreshed. Thanks are also particularly due to Karen Morrison, Janet Loughery and Helga Kingston the current Committee Members.”

The Film Society will be holding its Annual General Meeting at 6.30 pm in Café Piazza on Tuesday 13th March 2012 before the screening of “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”. Anybody with an interest in the Film Society is invited to attend.

“We hope to be able to develop the Film Society further over the course of the next year by getting more people involved and holding additional casual screenings. The Film Society would also like to become more involved with the local schools as an educational resource. Lectures on ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘Of Mice and Men’ have both proved extremely popular as these have been core texts for local GCSE and “A” level students.

Anybody who wishes to have more information on the Film Society should contact the Film Society on Information is also available from the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre and details of all future screenings can be found on the website