Salford is home to the oldest film club in existence and is still headed by the original president, who is now a remarkable 98 years old.
The film society, officially launched 90 years ago on 15 November 1930 as the Salford Workers Film Society, is celebrating its anniversary tonight with a free event which has had to move online due to the Covid restrictions.
Its 98-year-old president Marjorie Ainsworth will be leading the celebrations more than 80 years after she was encouraged to join the film society by her future husband Tom when she was just 17 years old.
“I was amazed, I didn’t know there were films outside of Britain and Hollywood; it opened up the world,” said Mrs Ainsworth.
And she says the film society has been key to keeping her young at heart.
“Watching films helps you stay in the zeitgeist, and guarantees you won’t have a mouldy old age,” she said.
Themed trilogies are a staple for the meetings, with Ainsworth cooking up cuisine to match; from curry for Satayajit Ray’s Apu trilogy to borscht for a Polish series. Catering is one of many roles she has played at the society – committee member, treasurer, programme note writer, celluloid film splicer, ‘general factotum’ – all over eight decades of membership.
Back in 1930, the society’s manifesto stated that its purpose was: ‘to cater for those who are dissatisfied with the average productions of the commercial cinema, with their shallowness and divorce from reality, and to offer in their stead films more closely in sympathy with the life and thought of this age.’
Now in its 89th season, the volunteer-led organisation holds true to those words; focusing on ‘thought-provoking cinema, seldom shown at the multiplex.’
While the usual meetings at the Little Theatre in Altrincham are put on hold due to Covid, the society has continued its activities with virtual film shows – inviting members to watch particular films online while providing notes on the films and circulating the written comments received.
Chair Carol Moores said: “We have been delighted with the support we have had from members during this difficult time, and the wide range of detailed and incisive comments that have been made on the films selected.
“This has enabled us to to share individual views from the entire membership at a time when we can’t get together for a proper conversation.”
Andy Serkis, award-winning actor and director who became the Society’s patron, said: “I am proud to be the patron of such a long-standing and important film society for the community and wish them success in their 90th year.”
Tonight’s virtual celebration will take place at 7.30pm with Andy Willis, Professor of Film Studies from the University of Salford, who will facilitate a discussion about the chosen film.
Attendees will be encouraged to watch the film via YouTube and then join the live discussion tonight.
The film chosen was voted among the best ever made, Dziga Vertov’s avant garde silent documentary ‘Man With a Movie Camera’. This film was first screened by the Film Society on 24 October 1931 with Salford singer, Ewan MacColl in attendance and many others.
To join the Film Society’s 90th birthday celebration, click here to get involved.