Film society calls on cinema lovers to unite

Mangerton woman Theresa Huxtable is a sociable soul who likes to encourage people out of their private domains to engage with others.

She has organised and participated   in a number of  groups  to improve the local amenities.

Huxtable is also a cinephile but  prefers to see films on the big screen in the company of others.

Her convivial nature and passion for movies have come together in her drive to form the Illawarra Film Society (IFS), a not-for-profit group that aims to screen interesting, eclectic and sometimes hard-to-source movies.

The society plans to screen a range of film genres to suit a broad range of cinematic taste – from independent, foreign and arthouse to home-grown films, as well as a selection of classics.

‘‘The aim of the IFS is not just about seeing films but also about the pleasure of seeing independent and arthouse films on the big screen,’’ Huxtable says.

‘‘The idea of a community event really appeals to me.

‘‘I love the idea of getting people out of their front room and to actually engage in something in which they have a chance to meet and chat.’’

Huxtable says the idea for a film society germinated after a long period in which she  wanted to go  to the flicks but found little matching her tastes was being screened.

‘‘I’ve been frustrated for many a day, on a weekend, and I’d think: ‘I’d really like to watch a good film’ and nine times out of 10 there was nothing suitable on,’’ she says.

‘‘Lots of people that I have spoken to in the Illawarra are frustrated at the lack of diversity in films that come here.

‘‘We get all the big blockbusters but we don’t get the smaller arthouse independent films or, if we do, they are only here for a day or two and it’s hard to know when they’re here. If you don’t pick them up at that moment then you miss them.’’

Huxtable, a former Novocastrian, was inspired by the Newcastle Film Society and believed that a similar organisation could work in the Illawarra.

She met with members of the Newcastle Film Society to pick their brains on how to set up a successful operation 

Then, with a group of like-minded friends, Huxtable created the Illawarra Film Society. 

The film society aims for a maximum membership of 500 people for 2013 and Huxtable says they are well on their way to reaching that number.

The IFS needs the 500-person membership base to cover the cost of hiring the cinema, hiring the movies, and the transportation costs of getting movies from the distributors.

‘‘We have been spreading the word through our networks and that’s actually been surprisingly promising because those who have already heard about it are quite interested,’’ she says.

The IFS will screen on 30 Sunday evenings throughout 2013, starting at 7pm at the Greater Union Cinema, Burelli Street, Wollongong. The first screening will be on March 3, 2013.

Huxtable says the society, which has a good working relationship with the Greater Union, won’t screen movies during the school holidays, on public holidays, or when there are other film festivals screening in the area.

The society committee is in the process of putting together the program for 2013 and is in talks with leading independent film distributors such as Hopscotch, Curious Film, Madman Entertainment and Aztec International Entertainment.

Huxtable says the committee’s wish list for 2013 includes A Separation, Academy Award winner in 2012 for best foreign language film; the Australian psychological drama-mystery Wish You Were Here; Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love and the Lebanese comedy drama Where Do We Go Now?.

‘‘Down the track we hope that members will make their own recommendations of films they might like us to screen and we would hope to be able to do that for them,’’ she says.

Huxtable and her husband Rowan formed the Wollongong Climate Action Network in 2006 to raise awareness of climate change and she has organised public meetings on the benefits of solar energy.

Huxtable has been an active member of the Mangerton Tree Group and she hosted a public transport forum in Wollongong.

She also organises fund-raising events for the Indigo Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to improve the lives of people in marginalised communities in Australia and around the world.

Huxtable hopes the film society will become a focal point for social and cultural life in the Illawarra.

‘‘The film society is another way of bringing people together, of talking about film, and catching up on a Sunday night,’’ she says.

‘‘It’s a chance to catch up with people that you might not have seen otherwise.’'

Membership forms can be found on the IFS’s website ifs.org.au.

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