Why Yorkshire is a hub for film societies


We know everyone likes a good film. How many times do you pick a cheap one up at the supermarket or log into your Netflix account and lose the rest of the day? Well, why not get involved with people who love the world of film, go see something a little bit different from internationally made film to that stunning film that slipped under the radar – that’s what local film societies are all about. They screen films that you will probably not find in the mainstream cinema. You can join as a member or simply pay to turn up to the odd screening.

I was lucky enough to be able to screen a short film with the Harrogate Film Society after their main feature in November, which went down really well. While I was there it hit me what film societies are all about. When I was first approached to screen the film I expected around fifteen to twenty people to turn up; on the night, there were 140 people, which  I am told is just about the average attendance and came as a surprise to me!

We sat down to watch the evenings feature; ‘The Tunnel’, an Australian horror which was an incredibly intense, but brilliant film. It really introduced me to the diverse programming of the film society. The next week they had a Portuguese made film, the week after it was Spanish one. But they also give local companies and filmmakers like me, a chance to showcase what we work on – which I think is fantastic. It’s a mix of international and local film for local people in an incredibly calm, relaxed environment and is probably a reason why, in Harrogate’s case, the society has done so well at keeping its numbers up over time, now in its 58th season.

I’m told their yearly membership is £32.50 which when put into the context of cinema tickets (around £10 each) is very impressive as the membership gets you screenings all year round, attendance for social events and special screenings – film societies in my opinion, do not get enough coverage.

So, cinema tickets may be undoubtedly too expensive – but you still love going. Also, sites like Netflix and Love Film are very reasonable and give you great access to a range of films. So, what else in addition to that already discussed is so appealing about film societies? The screenings are incredibly professional and it certainly has the atmosphere of the cinema. It’s a chance to get out the house and meet people who are passionate about film while joining in with the local community. You can make new friends and discover new films with them instead of dashing back to the car. Don’t think the films are any worse or old though; societies are renowned for programming films that have been released within the last three years.

Not all film societies do screen the same films as Harrogate, some simply screen classic films or just foreign language films. Make sure you find the right film society for you – take a look at your local film society in Yorkshire. A brief internet search tells me there are societies in: Addingham, Appleton, Bawtry, Beverley, Bramhope, Galtres, Halifax, Harrogate, Hepworth, Howardian, Hunmanby, Ilkley, Minicine, Otley, Ripon, Ryedale, Saddleworth, Scarborough, Selby, South Bank, Stokesley, Wakefield, Wetherby and Whitby.

The full list, information and contact details of all the societies can be found here. They are based all over Yorkshire, so what are you waiting for? Give your local film society a try!


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