Sligo Film Society celebrates 75 years

Sligo Film Society is celebrating 75 years of screening Irish and international cinema, making it one of the oldest regional film societies in Ireland.

Pictured at the Dublin International Film Festival at The Model this year: (l to r) some of the SFS committee members Dave Gunne, Patrick Curley, Edel Doherty, Jack Lynch with producer Anne Robinson and writer and actor Damian Callinan. (pic by James Connolly)

Pictured at the Dublin International Film Festival at The Model this year: (l to r) some of the SFS committee members Dave Gunne, Patrick Curley, Edel Doherty, Jack Lynch with producer Anne Robinson and writer and actor Damian Callinan. (pic by James Connolly)

To mark its 75th year, Sligo Film Society will have a wine reception for audience members at the final screening before Christmas on Thursday, December 19 at The Model at 7.15 pm. Mince pies have been generously sponsored and handmade by Lyon's Cafe, Osta, Sweet Beat, Kate's Kitchen and WB's Cafe.

Sligo Film Society was first established in April 1944 when a branch of the Irish Film Society was set up at The Gaiety Cinema. The aim was to bring a monthly programme of outstanding films of every nationality, not normally screened in mainstream cinema. A committee of nine was elected with R.H.Campbell-Perry as Chairman and Anthony (Tony) P. Toher as Secretary.

Members of Sligo Film Society at the Screening Sessions in 2015 with the late Tony Toher (front) who served on the original committee.

Members of Sligo Film Society at the Screening Sessions in 2015 with the late Tony Toher (front) who served on the original committee.

However, the idea to bring the best of world cinema to Sligo is said to have been born in the 1930s when the late Tony Toher’s father, Thomas P. Toher, decided to screen films in a shed in the back of Tohers Chemist, formerly located on Stephen Street.

The society began by screening its programme in the Gaiety cinema and went on to showcase films in venues all over Sligo including the Hawk’s Well Theatre, the Glasshouse Hotel, the Yeats Memorial Building, IT Sligo and the Teacher’s Centre (now the ETB).

While the film programme was a form of entertainment for local people, the ambition of the committee was to also encourage an appreciation of the art of cinema.

This was fulfilled with the establishment of the RTC (IT Sligo) in 1970, when a group of film enthusiasts emerged and took over the running of SFS. Many of these members still serve on the committee today and are joined by several new members.

Edel Doherty, Chair of Sligo Film Society said: “We are delighted to be celebrating 75 years of bringing the very best of Irish and international cinema to Sligo. What connects both audience and committee member alike is a shared love for arthouse cinema where conversations flow post-screening in a friendly, inclusive manner. 75 years is a huge milestone and we look forward to celebrating it with our audience before Christmas.”

(l to r) Writer and actor Damian Callinan, producer Anne Robinson and SFS Chair Edel Doherty at the panel discussion at the Dublin International Film Festival in The Model Sligo this year. (pic by James Connolly)

(l to r) Writer and actor Damian Callinan, producer Anne Robinson and SFS Chair Edel Doherty at the panel discussion at the Dublin International Film Festival in The Model Sligo this year. (pic by James Connolly)

The society has experienced a period of growth in recent years, with audience numbers increasing and several sold-out screenings. Sligo Film Society is a member of access>CINEMA, the resource organisation for regional cultural cinema exhibition in Ireland. Sligo Film Society runs its programme in partnership with The Model Cinema every Thursday at 8pm.

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