Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre Film Club’s 5th Birthday Celebration. 2006 – 2011.

You can't have a birthday without cake!
The RBC Film Club started life as an Introduction to Film Studies Course, which started on Tuesday 2nd May 2006 at Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries. Instigated by the then Film Officer Daniel Thomas and led by Darren Conner, Head of Film at the Cumbria Institute of the Arts, the course aims were to make accessible and ordinary the ideas and procedures of film studies. It was intended to organise the course around several non-specialist experiences of cinema: story, character and spectacle in order to develop an introductory level understanding and appreciation of key elements of film. The course incorporated screenings at the RBC. It all sounded very academic, but when we boiled it down most of the initial course membership just wanted to get a better understanding of film and talk about it.  The original course was for a ten-week period and it occupied a room in the Arts Centre with a very small television set to demonstrate the intricacies of the motion picture industry. The three films we saw during this period were the political thriller Syriana (2005), A Night at The Opera (1935) the Marx classic with its ain’t no Sanity Clause, one of the funniest gags in cinema history and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005) an American drama set on the US/Mexican border.

The drawbacks of these arrangements were soon evident and Dan Thomas suggested we move to the RBC Film Theatre for a regular Monday night slot, a night when the RBC had traditionally been closed. These new arrangement’s started on the 16th October 2006 with a screening of the 1944 film noir Double Indemnity. Also included in this second session was an invitation from Darren to join him at the City Cinema in Carlisle to attend the premier of Ghosts (2006) a drama film directed by Nick Broomfield based on the 2004 Morecambe Bay cockling disaster.

You don't have to be mad  to join the Film Club?

It was not until Alice Stilgoe replaced Dan Thomas as Film Officer that the club was incorporated into the main RBC Film Theatre programme and took the format that we all enjoy today. Without the late Darren Conner’s unique personally and charisma the club would of never have become as popular as it is. The most memorable nights have been the ones where Darren interviewed a guest, for example Rab Buchanan (That Sinking Feeling 1980, Gregory’s Girl 1981), Ian McCulloch (Zombie Flesh Eaters 1979) Morag McKinnon (Donkeys 2008), Peter Mullan (Ned’s 2010) and not forgetting ‘John Shuttleworth’ (Southern Softies 2009).

Following Monday nights Film Club birthday introduction from host Lindsay Taylor, a near capacity audience enjoyed a rare screening of Giuseppe Tornatore’s 1999 Italian classic Cinema Paradiso. The film tells the story, mostly in flashback, of Salvatore, a successful film director based in Rome who returns to his native Sicilian village for the funeral of his old friend and mentor Alfredo who was the projectionist at the local Cinema Paradiso where the young Salvatore, known as Toto, spent the happiest times of his childhood and developed his life long love of film. Alfredo not only passed on his projectional skills but also become a father figure to the fatherless Toto. 30 years have gone by since the successful Salvatore visited his place of birth and it’s the thought of going back for the funeral that brings out all his poignant memories including his teenage love affair with the beautiful Elena.

It’s watching movies of this calibre that reinforce your own love of the cinema. Its been described by Time Out as ‘A sweet hymn to the romance of the cinema” and that’s why it was such a good choice for our Film Club’s 5th birthday, one that was made even better by the romance of some wonderful baking from our present Film Officer, a big thank you to Fiona Wilson, your chocolate cake was mouth watering. Roll on the next five years.

To many more successful years.
 Many thanks to Alec Barclay for the great photos.

No comments:

Post a Comment