Grahamstown film club replaces closed cinema

Movie lovers still depressed by the closing of Cinema Zone are in for a treat. Cinemas have historically struggled to survive in Grahamstown and this was reason enough to inspire four members of the ‘Grahamstown Book club’ to create a space where films can air without the danger of being shut down. This newfound endeavour, the Film Club, opened its doors on 16 May at the St Andrews College.

There are no longer any cinemas in Grahamstown.  IMAGE: Sourced
There are no longer any cinemas in Grahamstown.
IMAGE: Sourced

Like many people in Grahamstown, the club members found going to the movies an enjoyable pastime where you could leave your life outside the doors and enjoy the big screen.“The Grahamstown Book club agreed that we should start a film club as we all really missed being able to go to the movies,” explained founder, Elysoun Ross.

Under South African Copyright Law, Ross and other founding members Belinda Tudge, Sandy Nicholls and Collen Rippon were granted a one-year license by the Motion Pictures Licensing Company (MPLC) to hold public performances for a small audience. Although the film club has only been granted a short amount of time to screen its movies, Ross has high hopes that the club will continue screening movies in years to come. “The license is renewable. I expect that the film club will continue indefinitely with a new committee to be elected every year,” said Ross.

The MPLC allows the Film Club to screen one movie a month to a certain number of people. “The film club already consists of 100 members, all of whom are retired,” said Ross. Unfortunately the club has already reached its hundred-member quota, meaning that for now no new members may join.

The Film Club aims to screen popular movies from the past year. Members pay a R150 once-off  fee which goes towards paying the film royalties. Members of the Grahamstown Film Club will have the opportunity to choose the movies  they would like to see. Ultimately,  the members of the committee will have the final say.

The first film screened was Philomena with Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, and the 23 May screening showed a positively responsive audience Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson’s hit, Saving Mr Banks.

“The quota is the only reason why students would not be able to attend, unfortunately we cannot exceed the limit,” explained Ross. Rhodes student Lea Dube believes that their choice of movies will appeal to students, considering most of them were Oscar nominated and well received by general audiences.

While the founders agree that not all students will enjoy the movies they choose to show, they believe that movies as a pastime are still enjoyed by people young and old.“I’m sorry if the students feel they have missed out. Maybe we need to start a Rhodes Film Club for students which would show movies more suited to a younger audience,” said Ross.


Words by Pumla Kalipa

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