Sharing a Love of Film with the Ferntree Gully Film Society

By Teresa Cannon

From a young age, Dorothy Davies had been captured by the magic of films with their fascinating narratives that delight and entertain, as well as the views they present of other people and cultures. In the early 1990s, the Ferntree Gully Film Society needed a new organiser and Dorothy willingly stepped in. Having attended films screened by the Society herself from the 1960s, she was appreciative of the Society’s tradition and she wanted to see it continue.

Established in 1956, as part of the FTG Arts Society, the Film Society was an important addition, cinemas being rare in the hills. Under the guidance of Gordon Mitchell and Bob Rothols, the Society quickly developed as an important resource for film lovers, particularly those who appreciated foreign films and the lesser screened films. It has a proud heritage. Organisers were delighted by their successful challenge against the Victorian Government’s ban on screening films on a Sunday. On their success, they showed Satyajit Ray’s, The Apu Trilogy, with its sensitive stories and its fine music by Ravi Shankar. The audience of 350 from all over Melbourne packed the Upper Gully Loyalty Cinema, now home to the 1812 Theatre.

When Dorothy took over in the 1990s, membership was beginning to fade. It was now easier to get to cinemas and they presented more comfort than the chairs and cold winters at The Hut, the venue until 1994.  Dorothy was determined to turn things around. She soon established an arrangement with the Boronia Cinema manager. The Film Society could use the cinema once a month and they could also retain their choice of films.

In 2002, when the Boronia Cinema closed (now reopened), the Film Society moved to the Europa Cinema at Knox City. The society flourished, but was seriously affected by Covid constraints in 2020 and 2021. Just as she’d done when numbers were dwindling earlier on,  Dorothy worked to keep interest in the Society. Now that Covid restrictions have eased, the Society is up and running again with a strong membership.

Dorothy has now handed over to long time Film Society team member, Sally Kirkham. Dorothy will still attend the films and will no doubt be available to share her extensive knowledge of films, their history and their importance in our lives.

Membership is essential if you’d like to attend the films. Cost is $85 annually for 11 films. Concessions are available. Screenings are held at 7:00pm on the fourth Monday of the month at the Europa Cinema, Village Cinema Complex, Knox City. Genres include English and foreign language films with subtitles. The Membership Secretary can be contacted on 8756 4286.

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