Since 1969, the Trent Film Society (TFS) has been providing students with easy access to interesting movies, and cultivating a film and cinema community in the process. In the words of the film society’s Head Director, Hannah Collins, the group shows “films that are as accessible as possible, that aren’t necessarily as mainstream… with a focus on foreign, avant-garde, indie and classic movies.”
Trent Film Society’s regular screenings take place on Wednesdays during the school year in a wheelchair accessible space, which is usually the Sadleir House Lecture Hall. The organization is working towards making the space more accessible in other ways, through implementing closed captions. TFS isn’t afraid to show controversial films, but they will provide content warnings as necessary. The screenings are always followed by a brief moderated discussion.
In the past year, Trent Film Society has shown an eclectic range of films, including Sorry To Bother You (2018), Dazed and Confused (1993), Eighth Grade (2018), The Big Chill (1983), and Ginger Snaps (2000).
They’ve also been shaking things up by going above and beyond their traditional weekly programming, to bring additional screenings with exciting twists. For Halloween, TFS teamed up with several local artists and musicians to provide a live soundtrack to Night of the Living Dead (1968).
The money collected through the Trent Film Society’s levy goes towards keeping a barebones staff of three part-time employees, renting the facilities the screenings are hosted in, as well as funding public licenses.
As Collins told Arthur, “A lot of people don’t know but there is a lot of legality involved in showing public screenings, even free screenings, even small screenings. It’s still important to ensure that everybody gets paid.”
When asked about how the Student Choice Initiative might affect TFS, Collins spoke to the difficulties involved in illustrating the importance of arts-based levies.
“It’s almost more difficult to attract people to continue to support you when your programming isn’t necessarily directly helping people or making a social impact, even though it is in fact doing both of those things but in a lot more subtle and long-term way. Showing free movies every week seems frivolous on the surface, but in reality, it does do a lot of good in creating a dynamic and engaged arts community in Peterborough.”
Collins went on to note that although TFS is a small organization with small-scale screenings, its worth is grounded in its consistent presence in the Trent and broader Peterborough community: “No matter what, on a Wednesday night, there is something free and interesting to do.”