London Film Society
Britain's first film society was founded at the New Gallery Kinema in Regents Street, London in 1925. The Society was the idea of Ivor Montagu and Hugh Miller, and was formed with the support of cinema exhibitor Sidney Bernstein, film critics Iris Barry and Walter Mycroft, sculptor Frank Dobson, and film director Adrian Brunel. When Miller left the council, he was replaced by graphic designer Edward McKnight Kauffer.
Early members of the Society included George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Maynard Keynes, Dame Helen Terry and Augustus John.
The Society's prospectus stated that it had "been founded in the belief that there are in this country large numbers of people who regard the cinema with the liveliest interest and who would welcome an opportunity seldom afforded to the general public of witnessing films of intrinsic merit whether old or new."
Between 1925 and 1939, the Society screen 496 over 14 seasons, including many Russian films which led the popular press to frequently accuse the Film Society of promoting Communism and being elitist. The majority of the films screened were shorts, including early factual documentary films.
By the early 1930s, foreign films were being shown more widely in London and membership of the Society gradually declined. With war in Europe looming and the number of attendees at screenings dropping, the Film Society's council decided to disband after the screening of Sergey Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky on 23rd April 1939.
- BFI Screenonline - Film Society, The (1925-39)
Notes & References
- Source: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.