Film Club

A book club that replaces books with documentary films? SwoooOOoon! Yes, Influence Film Forum sets out to do just that even providing resources relevant to the film's subjects and in some cases even access to exclusive filmmaker interviews. This is such a brilliant way to introduce cultural dialogue and also to discuss the role of media in our lives: what we choose to believe and how it is presented. Image culture bombards and sensory overload is the norm in contemporary culture. The idea of fostering a more informed and thoughtful understanding of media and visual storytelling seems like the obvious next step to the overwhelming image production of late.

In learning about this doc film club I came across another organization called, simply,  Film Club, a British based org that seeks to use film as a resource for young students. Children are taught how to interpret, express and discuss literature so why wouldn't they be taught to do the same with the equivalent medium of the times? Behavioral changes, focus, introspection, building of emotional intelligence, and close reading of film are obvious, positive outcomes, a closer look at which is discussed in this great article for educators. This concept of the film club is invaluable to the future of our changing relationship with visual media.

I am fully aware that film societies dot the US but in my experience these orgs are often populated with a more serious film person and are concerned with specific styles of curation whereas I think the ideal film club would look to cultivate a critical language for even the casual film watcher. Libraries, schools, malls, museums are great potential meeting places... hell, maybe this is even a way to save the ailing videostore or maybe it's another way for distribution or publicity companies to package product (reading guides, access to filmmakers, relevant books or similar films available with the film)!

This also makes me think that the current modes of public screening fees are a bit outdated...some organizations are able to skirt the costs of public viewing with educational licenses of some kind but maybe these guidelines need to change along with the changing economy/distribution of film? Or we all need to raid more public domain archives a little bit more? From a personal standpoint, my middle school was really good at avoiding screening fees...I fondly remember a student bringing in a street bought bootleg of Twister- conveniently missing the INTERPOL warnings- but full of additional special effects made by the video-camera-in-theater-on-lap bootlegger artist, the frame shook with the entire camera whenever a storm was erupting on screen. And this was most definitely one of the most formative experiences of my life!

Film should be viewed more as the educational and creative resource that it can be and I really think that this idea of film clubs would make for a more rounded viewer, one that could become part of a larger, welcoming audience that is needed in the over-saturated film market. And maybe this is what we've been missing these past few years, maybe instead of focusing on the expansion of production in the new digital film world we should all be focusing on the consuming side of things? We need to make an interested, engaged audience specifically looking for good work if we want to have a reason- if we want to have eyes & ears- to actually experience the new, bountiful landscape of stories in film form.  Oh, and, uh, for the record, this post does not endorse Hot Tub Film world...WTF!



Donna K. lives in the Midwest and on the internet. Mostly she writes about her interest in the offline world.