With its announcement of eight screenings this fall, the Sunshine Coast Film Society anticipates a return to its first regular shows in Sechelt and Gibsons since COVID-19 shuttered the group’s regular activities in March 2020.
Nomadland, an Academy Award-winning drama starring Frances McDormand, is the first scheduled movie. It will be shown at the Raven’s Cry Theatre in Sechelt on Sept. 10 and the Gibsons Heritage Playhouse on Sept. 12.
“We go after what I have always called movies for grown-ups,” said society president Doug Dyment, who joined the organization halfway through its 20-year existence. “When I became the president, I expressed my desire to make a change. The society was doing OK. It was attracting a modest audience, but I thought it was serving the wrong purpose. In places like Sechelt and Gibsons, which is our main audience, we don’t really need a film society that shows obscure avant-garde films.”
Dyment redefined the volunteer-led organization’s mandate to focus instead on recent, mainstream films without a surfeit of superheroes or comic family fare.
A film selection committee, led by Greg Marshall, evaluates recommendations made by society members. The committee scans, reviews and conducts research into commercial distribution rights. At twice-yearly meetings, a shortlist of 12 to 15 proposals is winnowed to eight films for the coming season.
“We’ve learned a bit,” said Dyment. “With our collective experience, we know what makes a good film. You can’t typecast [our membership] too much, though — you can’t say they’re not going to want anything too sexy. They like nice, sexy films too. I mean, they like everything.”
Before the COVID lockdown, which forced the cancellation of the society’s final three films in its spring 2020 season, there were over 600 members on its books. Dyment estimates that membership has since dropped by half.
During the two lean years, the society continued its support of youth education. This spring, it awarded its 2022 Judy Lynne Memorial Bursary to Elphinstone Secondary graduate (and valedictorian) Abby Ridd of Gibsons.
“The award is for a student entering post-secondary in the field of film, television or video production who has strong scholastic ability,” said Bette Chadwick, a board member of the Sunshine Coast Film Society. “It’s named for Judy Lynne, a member of the society who served as president for a long time. She was quite a character, a really interesting woman.”
Ridd was inspired to create her own films while in high school and chose to continue her passion for the medium by enrolling in the four-year Bachelor of Arts in Film at Simon Fraser University this fall. Her primary interests lie in directing and cinematography. The program will include rigorous technical training and extensive instruction in cinema studies and history.
The Sunshine Coast Film Society also sponsors a participant each year in the Powell River Film Festival Adventures in Film Camp.
Other screenings this fall will include The Father, a 2020 French-British co-production starring Anthony Hopkins, and the Danish animated documentary Flee (Flugt), which won the World Cinema Documentary Competition at last year’s Sundance Film Festival.
A full schedule of upcoming movies, membership information and admission details are listed at the Sunshine Coast Film Society website.