Groton Film Society enjoys strong premiere

By Pierre Comtois
Nashoba Publishing

Article Launched:12/07/2007 08:35:35 AM EST

GROTON -- Neither freezing temperatures nor opening night malfunctions prevented local film fans from packing the Williams Art Center theater at Lawrence Academy to see the first in a series of film presentations sponsored by the new Groton Film Society.

Over 85 people attended the event last Saturday night, which featured the screening of a little-known film about a New Zealander with big dreams. The screening also marked the successful premiere for the Society, the latest landmark on the town's cultural landscape.

"I think it's wonderful," said Society member Scott Stathis. "We kind of hoped to get off to a good start and I think we're doing that. I love it! Hopefully, things will only get better and the Society's efforts will be appreciated."

"I'm just stunned," said fellow Society member Keith Dawson. "Just stunned and gratified by the reaction of this community. We thought we were building something to fill a need but until you do it, you don't know how successful it will be. But this is going to go!"

"I think it's amazing and wonderful," added Society member Chase Duffy, noting the heavy initial turnout. "So many people have responded to the excitement created by something like this. We were expecting a strong response and it's so nice to see your expectations met."

Believing there was strong interest in films in the Nashoba Valley area, Stathis and others decided to form a film society in Groton. The new group would fill the gap left by large theater chains that lately seem to concentrate on crowd-pleasing "blockbusters" instead of less ambitious, more thoughtful films such as "The World's Fastest Indian," a recent effort starring Anthony Hopkins that received little exposure when officially released.

"I read about the Society in the newspaper and decided to give it a try," said Patricia Woods, who joined scores of other local residents on the evening of Dec. 1 for a viewing of the Anthony Hopkins film. "It was a wonderful movie. Very entertaining. It was the sort of thing that would bring me back for more."

"I love movies and think it's a great thing to be starting up a film society in Groton," added Kim Sheffield. "And they started things up with a terrific movie!"

Not a single person left the theater before the credits rolled, despite opening night glitches that continually interrupted the first half of the screening. That nobody left was proof not only that the Society's initial offering was as entertaining as claimed, but those in the audience were serious about their support for the nascent Groton Film Society.

"I'm just an avid film bug from my days at Fitchburg State and just like to support independent cinema," explained Kristofer Georgeou, a resident of Hudson, N.H. "Tonight's film was a nice alternative to what's shown at the local cinema. It's a beginning."

Although Susan Nordberg had seen the night's film offering before, that did not prevent her from enjoying it again and expressing her support for the new Film Society.

"I came because my husband met Burt Munro (the real-life central character in the film) at a bike meet in New Zealand," Nordberg said while hobnobbing with fellow film buffs at a light reception following the premiere. "We saw the film before, when it was shown in Boston, and now own it on DVD. So I didn't necessarily come for the movie but to see about the Film Society. I wanted to find out if it was something I would want to join and I'm going to."

"I'm not terribly interested in today's movies, and haven't actually seen a movie in a couple of years, but this project sounded like a nice thing to look into," said David Woods. "It gives you the opportunity to socialize with your fellow townsfolk and, incidentally, to see some potentially good movies."

However, bringing interesting films to Groton does not come without a cost. There are royalties to be paid, and in order to do that the Society must raise money.

Thus, the cost for a full year's individual membership in the Society is $100, $150 for a couple, $75 for senior citizens, $100 for senior couples and $50 for students. Discounts are available for couples and those who want to buy two-year memberships.

A lifetime membership is $1,000.

Although one-day memberships will be available for the Society's first few shows, the requirements under which the films are leased require those who wish to attend screenings after that to sign up for full memberships.

Saturday's screening was preceded by a modest reception before attendees filtered down to the theater to view the film. In the future, the Society hopes to feature films that will provoke discussion among viewers who will be encouraged to linger after a screening to talk among themselves. For some films, guest speakers might be invited to provide introductions and possible commentary.

With their successful program launch on Saturday night, Society members look forward to presenting an award-winning film from Germany called "The Lives of Others" on Jan. 5.

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