Groups show films in new light

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The short days and long evenings encouraged me to look around the various U3A Groups for activities I hadn’t explored previously, writes Caroline Green of Wetherby U3A.

I invited myself along to the U3A Film Studies Group. I’ve always enjoyed watching a good film, either at the cinema or at home, particularly when the weather isn’t very inviting outside, so I thought I’d find out how watching films in a group worked.

This comfortable, welcoming, cosy and enjoyable evening with friends encompassed everything. There’s no need to watch a film alone at home or go out to the cinema, just join the U3A Film Studies Group. The Group only started in January 2016, but already it has grown exponentially. The optimum number of people in any group which meets in someone’s home is limited by the size of the host’s home. Contrary to popular belief, this does not mean everyone has to move to a bigger house to accommodate the growing groups.

This growing membership phenomenon happens frequently within the U3A. When a new group outgrows itself, another one often sprouts up from an existing group membership and takes on an existence of its own. This is why you’ll often see groups with numbers, like Film Studies 1, Film Studies 2 etc.

Rosie Simpson, who is the Group Leader, explained that members usually take turns to host and choose a director and a representative film. Prior to the meeting information is circulated on the director to inform the discussion. I had received a detailed account of the chosen film and the Director, Terry George. An account of his life alone would have made a riveting film. Our host, Sue, had chosen the film, The Promise, on the recommendation of a friend. It wasn’t one any of the group had seen before.

We each received a lovely welcome, were given a drink and encouraged to make ourselves comfortable. We watched the film in quiet companionship, passing around the nibbles that Sue had prepared for us. I’m not going to tell you the story because I would highly recommend that you try and find the film, and see it for yourself. After it had finished we embarked on a discussion of the events surrounding the film, the history behind it, the outcome, the acting, the directing and the music.

There are some very knowledgeable people in the group, some avid film buffs and people who love to watch a film in company. This was very unlike going to the cinema having chosen a film you want to see. It was going to see a film of someone else’s choosing. It is agreed that everyone in the group abides by the choice of film. This opens you up to other people’s choices, new films, old films, discussions you might not otherwise have. I felt better informed when I left at the end of the evening, and felt I had gained a level of understanding about the director and the film, and in particular the politics surrounding the making of the film.

Recommendations were made about other films and the next few meetings were agreed among the members. When I was chatting with Lesley Newnham on email following the evening she gave me several pertinent and important points by which the Film Studies Groups operate.

‘It can also be a way for the penny pinched to enjoy films - cinema has become quite expensive these days. Also the learning element is essential for a group such as this as it then comes properly under the umbrella of U3A and does not contravene the Performing Arts Licensing Laws. If we were to show films without the learning element, strictly speaking we would have to pay about £250 a year between the two bodies controlling public showings’. 

If you’d like to know more about Wetherby & District U3A please check out our website. www.wetherbyu3a.org.uk