The first meeting of the Jersey Film Society took place on 11th December 1947 at the Cafe Bleu, West’s Cinema, St. Helier. Both the cafe and cinema have long since been demolished but the Film Society is still flourishing and in 1997 it celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Since it began, the Film Society has been concerned with film as an art form, and it has shown literally hundreds of films that would not have been screened commercially. These films have been selected in accordance with the objectives of the Society, which are:
- to encourage interest in and study of films as a form of art and as a medium of information and education;
- to encourage an intelligent and discriminating attitude towards films; and
- to enable its members to see films of cultural, artistic or technical merit which, owing to their age, country of origin, lack of appeal to the general public, or for any other reason, are not normally exhibited in commercial cinemas.
The history of the Jersey Film Society is in many ways a reflection of wider social changes that have taken place over the last sixty years. During the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, cinema-going was at its most popular and in 1952 the membership of the Society peaked with 584 members. The advent of television, combined with the increased availability of other types of leisure activity, resulted in a gradual decline in the popularity of the cinema.
General audience figures fell to such a level that by the early 1980’s there was a real concern about the future of cinema and the imminent demise of the British film industry was being predicted. Despite this, the Jersey Film Society showed imagination and flair and in 1987 was awarded ‘Film Society of the Year’ – the highest accolade for film societies across the British Isles.
Fortunately, the gloomy predictions were not realised: there has been an enormous revival of interest in film, and cinema attendances have doubled since the early 1980’s. Even the British film industry, once pronounced terminally ill, is showing signs of health again, and it is producing films that have met with both commercial and critical success. On a local level, there has been a revival of interest in the Film Society and membership levels are higher than at any time since 1971.
The JFS Today
We now show all films at the Jersey Arts Centre in the main theatre using DVD & Blu-ray technology. From 2001/2 more films were added offering 16-17 in the season.
In 2007 it was deemed financially important to sell tickets at the door on film evenings. Unfortunately, the original constitution, which had served us well for 60 years, strictly forbade this and so it was decided to wind up the old Society and immediately constitute a brand new one with the same aims. Thus the Jersey Film Society (2007) was born and, with a dedicated management committee and a loyal membership, we have continued to bring a varied programme of interesting, entertaining, thoughtful movies to the Island’s audiences.
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