Welcome to Faversham Film Society, based at the listed Royal Cinema in the town centre of Faversham, Kent. For three decades we have been screening the best of modern world cinema, British and US independent films and the occasional classic.
We began in 1981, when a local film director, John Bennett, placed an ad in a Faversham paper, and was gratified when over 40 film enthusiasts turned up. A committee was formed, equipment borrowed, and the first film society season began in the upper room of a pub, with “All the President’s Men”. Membership fees were £7.50 for eight films!
Over the following years we grew in size and changed venues – a function room in the local council offices, the old Arden Theatre, the meeting hall of the Fleur de Lis Museum, and finally back to the rebuilt Arden Theatre. But in 1994 a huge event happened in Faversham – the local cinema reopened.
The Royal as it looks today
Originally called the Odeon, the Royal was built in 1936, designed by cinema architect Andrew Mather to fit in with Faversham’s many medieval buildings (it is now one of the only two surviving mock-Tudor cinemas in the UK). In 1974, after various name-changes, it was closed as a full time cinema. Rows of seats were removed from the mezzanine and bingo machines installed. For another ten years it struggled on as part cinema/part bingo hall, then just bingo until 1992 when it shut completely. Plans were afoot to demolish it, and a very active pressure group sprang up to try to save it, perhaps to use as a local arts centre. Stalemate ensued; but then the unexpected happened; like a Phoenix, the Royal Cinema rose again!
Negotiations began between the cinema operators Peter Baldock and Michael Harlow, and the Film Society Committee to show our films at the Royal. There were huge advantages to the members – for the first time they would see films as they were meant to be shown – on a large screen (and the Royal also has the distinction of being one of only 100 surviving big-screen cinemas in the UK) and with ‘proper’ Dolby Stereo sound (dodgy sound quality had always been our worst feature).
So in 1995 we moved to the Royal. We were offered alternate Mondays to show ‘our’ films, which meant that we could double the amount of films that we screened previously – we now have three ‘seasons’ showing up to eight films in each season with a break in August.
Looking back over all the films that we have screened — comedy, drama, social realism, fantasy, westerns, animation, horror, sci-fi, documentary… cultures from Inuit to Australian Aboriginal… in languages from Urdu to Xhosa… from countries as diverse as Senegal and Mongolia… it could be said that there is something for everyone. We don’t expect everyone to like all our films; after all, the people on the current committee who choose them also have widely differing tastes!
If you have suggestions about films you would like to see, either click on the Contact link or see us in person at the Film Society table in the cinema lobby before the screenings.
Have a look at our current programme – hopefully there is something that you would enjoy.
See you at the movies!