HISTORY OF THE PETERBOROUGH FILM SOCIETY

The Peterborough Film Society (PFS) has been bringing films to audiences in Peterborough since 1947. The inaugural meeting was held at the Training College in City Road on Sunday 23rd March at 2:45pm. Two films were shown; “Nine Men” and “The Hague” - and a constitution document was produced stating that the mission of the society was:-

ASFF2012 “To advance the education of the public in the knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the arts, particularly that of film and allied visual techniques. To promote as well by lectures, discussions and exhibitions, not for profit and open to all above the age of 16 years".

Programme two was shown at King's School on the 27th April 1947 at 2:45pm. Three films were presented - Charlie Chaplin's “Dough and Dynamite”, Jean Tedesco's “Magie du Fer Blanc” and Robert J. Flaherty's “Man of Aran”.

Programme three was shown at County Grammar School, Cobden Avenue on the 25th September 1947. The films presented were Oskar Fischinger's “Minuet by Mozart”, D.W. Griffith's “Simple Charity” & the cartoon “Felix wins and loses".

The PFS continued to present films in various locations in it's early years including the Co-op Hall in Park Rd, Elwes Hall in Church Walk and the Arthur Mellows Village College in Glinton.

In 1951 membership cost 10s 6d (52.5p in today's money) and 7s 6d (37.5p) with a total of 83 members. Film hire for the season cost £45 16s, printing was £21 15s and a caretaker cost £5 11s 3d. A system very similar to today.

ASFF2012 In 1959 films were shown at the City Youth Centre with a programme of general interest films for Mondays and vintage comedies on Sundays. At this time there was a further mission statement produced to push for an Arts cinema in tte city and the PFS referred to itself as the Peterborough Arts Theatre.

Among the films shown during this period were George Clouzot's “Wages of Fear”, Clifton Webb's first appearance in “Sitting Pretty” , Ken Russell's “Amelia and the Angel”, Ingmar Bergman's “Wild Strawberries”, George Cukor's “Adam's Rib” and Jacque Cousteau's “The Silent World”.

ASFF2012 In 1969 we were affiliated with Greater Peterborough Arts Council, Peterborough Arts Theatre Limited, BFI and BFFS. Cost of membership was then £5 10s (£5.50p), £3 and £1 10s (£1.50p) with a total of 57 members.

In 1973 the 28th season saw Alan Bunch take over the reins of editorship and production of film notes. The first film shown under his stewardship in September was Peter Bogdanovich's “The Last Picture Show”.

By 1974-75 we had to contemplate a reduced season due to financial concerns. We were saved by an Eastern Arts grant of £200 and a move to the AUEW Hall in Lincoln Rd. Here we showed films on Sunday evenings and included Costa-Gavros's “Z”, Luiz Bunuel's “Tristana”, John Huston's “Fat City”, Mike Leigh's “Bleak Moments” and Milos Forman's “Taking Off”.

ASFF2012 In 1977 and 1978 we showed films at the Key Theatre, which was followed in the early 1980's by a move to the ABC Cinema who gave over one their 3 screens for PFS shows on a Thursday night. ASFF2012

During this period the new Peterborough Central Library was under construction and in 1986 we were able to move in to our current home, the John Clare Theatre. We trialled shows at the Broadway Cinema, renovated by Peter Boizot, and the Key Studio attached to the Key Theatre. These venues proved to be short lived options as the Broadway did not succeed as a business venture and the Key was found to have inferior seating and noise control.

In the early years at the John Clare Theatre Alan Bunch was ably assisted by Paul Radcliffe, who practically ran the society single-handed. Films of note shown at this time were “Babette's Feast”, “Life is Sweet”, “Jean de Florette” and “Manon des Sources”. But 2 films stand out - “Cyrano de Bergerac” starring Gerard Depardieu and Jean Vigo's “L'Atalante”. Both drew full houses and remain the most popular films ever presented.

Alan Bunch retired to Majorca in 2005 and Alan Smith took over the role of chairman until 2016 when Gary Rossin took on the role.