This week I heard the sad news that our local cinema society CineGuernsey would be closing after 11 years. During that time it screened a wide variety of independent, foreign, and classic cinema to appreciative audiences. Unfortunately, new, easier ways of accessing film (VOD) and ever decreasing cinematic release windows have led to lower audience numbers and the society’s inability to cover screening costs. Which is sort of bitter-sweet as part of CineGuernsey’s mission was to broaden interest in cinema and they have certainly helped do that.
So if more people are watching more films on demand, if our local cinema is showing a massively increased variety of films compared to five years ago what have we actually lost?
The answer is conversation.
CineGuernsey didn’t just choose films to show, they curated. Films were chosen after debate and discussion by the committee. Why are we showing this? Does it expand our understanding of film or the wider world? Does it start a conversation? In addition each film would have an introduction. Sometimes a look at the director or screenwriter, sometimes a delve into the film and it’s production, there were also short story readings, Q&As with film makers, parallels with current events, discussions and even short films that complimented the main feature (Elephant (2003) and Elephant (1989) pictured above was one example). Questions and comments were always welcome and no audience walked out in silence.
That’s a big loss especially when every cinema lover’s favourite question is ‘have you seen?’.
Screenings are, and always will be, a massively important part of film culture and so are the conversations that they inspire. They are a place for a community to discover and discuss art, laugh, cry and hide behind their hands.
CineGuernsey will be much missed. Thanks to all those that have been involved over the years, the films were wonderful and so were the people.
Goodbye CineGuernsey… or maybe À la perchoine if someone can figure out the economics.