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NZFI Newsletter August 1957

Page history last edited by FilmSociety@gmail.com 6 years, 6 months ago


Film Societies in New Zealand are spreading and growing almost as fast as expresso coffee shops and dine-and-dance establishments; perhaps, indeed, they are an expression of the same underlying need.

Everyone had high hopes that, as one compensation for a war which took so many New Zealanders overseas, the post-war period would see a rapid growth of many institutions, cultural and otherwise, which returning servicemen had become used to during their stay in older countries. It didn't entirely work out that way; what most of them, sensibly, wanted to do was to settle down and get on with their family life. But there was some change in minor ways, and perhaps the establishment of film societies in the immediate post-war years belongs to that current.

By the time war was ten years behind, normality had so far returned that, in the film world, increasing numbers of continental films were getting commercial release in New Zealand. Film societies, in the first ten years or so of their life, had two main sources of film - the "classics" which had either never been shown or were forgotten (and fortunately, a very large selection of these was purchased by the Film Institute), and the continental films which were not getting a  commercial release in large numbers.


Now, partly as a result of a cultural growth and perhaps more because of immigration from Europe, the latter field became more restricted. So, in the last year, a city dweller at least could spend an evening seeing a new Fernandel, or an old Cocteau, move on to a civilized coffee, and perhaps wind up in a pleasant night-club. Not exactly the West End, but approaching its amenities. The smaller towns where the debatable virtues of expresso coffee hadn't reached still might see some of these outstanding films, anyway (especially since TV in the States had restricted Hollywood's output, and theatres here needed to find more films from other sources or dig up some of the better stuff from the vaults).

Is there a place for film societies now, or are we to be sandwiched between the coffee shop with an Italian name, and the burgeoning dine-and-dance culture? Immediately, it doesn't look as though our supplies for next year will be restricted. Indications are that the potential 1958 programme will be the best ever. But even if we can go on offering satisfactory programmes, members in societies will have to think about their functions. Frequently, good films shown commercially aren't well supported, and the exhibitor has legitimate grouch if he says he doesn't get support for his ventures. Perhaps a growing information service through the Institute is one answer here.

But wherever we go from here, it isn't along the same way as we have come since 1945. We can't sit back with a cup of coffee and a sigh of satisfaction to watch the sub-titles slip by. The pioneer work of societies during their first decade did much to create the social climate in which La Belle et la Bete could be shown in Queen Street or Courtenay Place: there's a lot more to be done by societies yet.




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