In a snapshot
The Townsville Cinema Group began as a film society at James Cook University in 1962.
The Group brings unusual, challenging and off-beat films to the screen. We program engaging and thought-provoking films from all corners of the globe.
Between films and via our website and Facebook page, we provide a forum for people to discuss film. The audience gets a chance to rate the movies through voting slips and can see the graphed results at our next movie night and via this website.
We sponsor two film-making awards as part of the annual Northern Lights short-film festival.
We try to make it all very affordable. Once you pay your $110 annual membership fee, you are able to watch as many of the 30 movies on the programs. Come join our roughly 250 members enjoying a Thursday movie night.
If you prefer, you can try it first as a ‘walk-in’ for $15 at the door.
We screen at the Event Cinema City (Sturt St), every second Thursday.
The Townsville Cinema Group is a successful organization. It has been in continuous operation for more than fifty years. It has been financially self supporting throughout that time, having never received grants and only occasional sponsorships in kind. It has dealt successfully with changes of technology and changes in the demography and nature of its audience.
It has continued to undertake the purpose for which it was first formed, to screen films of outstanding merit not otherwise available to the citizens of Townsville or, as it is stated in the 2008 Rules of Incorporation, ‘to promote and provide access to films of different genres, cultures and countries for the benefit of members.’ All this has required a good deal of work on the part of committees and continuing commitment from ordinary members.
A passion for film has fueled this commitment.
Members express a feeling that the films shown by the Cinema Group extend their experience and contrast this with much popular culture. For example, Bill White, in a submission that won an Townsville City Council Arts Award, wrote: ‘we are being forced to consume cultural material that is increasingly narrow, plain and unchallenged. . . . By programming films that range between joyous and dark and disturbing, the Townsville Cinema Group has met an audience need that commercial cinemas and distributors avoid.’
The cosmopolitan nature of cinema is part of its attraction. Elizabeth Drew says ‘I think it is very important to see films from different countries which give you an idea of the values, history, ideas and aspirations of people in a different culture. . . . On a practical level the Cinema Group provides a meeting place for people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds with an interest in what goes on beyond Australia’s shores.’
The Cinema Group experience is not only about films but also about the circumstances in which they are shown. Simon McConnell comments that ‘the continuing strength of the Cinema Group lies in the cinema experience. For most of the group’s long life the films have been shown in a cinema with the big screen, the sound system and the candy bar. In recent years the combination of pay TV and free to air broadcasting has meant that almost all the Group’s screenings have been or will be available to view on television. This has not affected attendance.’
Mark Enders expresses the passion as ‘a love of new, interesting, off-beat and even classic and timeless film’ and pays his respects to past committee members who ‘over the years have all shared that same passion for sitting in the dark and being transported by the medium that is now over 100 years old but in some ways is as new and as fresh and as exciting as it was when the Salvation Army were the biggest producers and exhibitors of film in Australia.’