Newcastle West Film Club members Mary Carroll, Eamon Kelly, Catherine Carroll, Liam O'Sullivan and Eileen Moloney
LIGHTS, camera, action. This was the headline with which the Newcastle West Cinema Club announced itself to the world and to its prospective audience ten years ago.
And in the decade since, the small, dedicated group of volunteers which make up the club’s committee, has worked faithfully to deliver on that headline.
Through 20 seasons,the club has dimmed the lights on 104 films, from 35 countries and in 15 different languages, providing the audience with a seat at a global cinema, without ever leaving West Limerick.
It is a very sound legacy which the club plans to celebrate at its 10th anniversary screening on Friday, September 14.
On that night, the chosen film will be The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the Oscar-nominated and award-winning film that was screened on its opening night, September 18, 2008. And to add to the celebration, the club will be laying on drinks and food for the audience members with a bargain admission price
Club chairman, Eamon Kelly, shares with his fellow committee members, their sense of surprise that a decade has passed in a blur of films. But there is enormous satisfaction too.
“We are extremely pleased to reach this milestone,” he said. “Most film clubs only last three or four years maximum. Obviously, the big, big clubs such as those in Galway and Dublin have been around for years but they are in areas of very high population. It is fairly unique for a film club of our size to last this length of time.”
Eamon, who joined the committee shortly after the club was set up, paid tribute to the founding members and the hard work they put into establishing the club and to keeping it going ever since. The impetus for the club came when West Limerick Resources and West Limerick Community Development Project identified a need for an alternative social outlet in the community and a small group of people, with a shared passion, came together.
“When we started we were very very ambitious,” said Mary Carroll, a founder member. There were twelve films in a season. But a film a week proved too much. “We had to adapt as we went along but we always aimed to keep it going.”
The quieter pace has continued since, finding its own level. The club now runs an autumn and a spring season, with three films each season and is affiliated to Access Cinema which involves attending programming meetings and screening days, mostly in Dublin.
“There is a huge social element to the club” Eamon added. The films begin at 8pm but people arrive early, and stay on afterwards, enjoying tea or coffee and the inevitable chat.
Aside from the regular screenings, the film club has collaborated with other organisations to show additional films as part of community projects or events. These have included Limerick Language Alive Week, Integration Week, 16 Days of Action Against Domestic Violence, The Compassionate Communities Project, Éigse Michael Hartnett and various Intercultural Events.
Above all, the club would really love if all those who have come to any of their films over the years were to join them on September 14.