Almost 100 years

Film Societies have been operating in the UK since the early days of cinema. Even before the first society officially set up in 1925, film fans were catching the ferry to France to pick up the latest film reels and bring them back to their communities. Below is a timeline of the film society and community cinema movement in the UK, from 1925 to the present day.


A screenshot from the 1924 film 'The WaxWorks'


The Meeting of the First UK Film Society

On 25th October 1925, The Film Society held its first meeting at the New Gallery Kinema in Regent Street, London. Founder members of The Film Society included Anthony Asquith, Sidney Bernstein, Ivor Montagu, H G Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Augustus John and John Maynard Keynes. The first show included the feature film The Waxworks and Champion Charlie, a Chaplin short. The primary objective of the society was to screen more of the avant-garde material which had not found an outlet in the commercial cinema.

Poster for the film 'It's a Wonderful Life'


The British Federation of Film Societies is formed

After manly attempts to federate, the film societies of England come together to form The British Federation of Film Societies. The very first ‘Viewing Sessions’ are held that same year.

Cover of the first issue of the BFFS 'Film' magazine


The first issue of ‘Film’ is published

For several decades, the British Federation of Film Societies published its own magazine, Film, featuring reviews, opinion pieces and news of the activities of film societies both at home and abroad.

Logo for the British Federation of Film Societies


The English and Scottish Federations Merge

In 1969, the Federation of Scottish Film Societies amalgamated with the English Federation to form the British Federation of Film Societies (BFFS). In that same year, the first Film Society of the Year Award was announced – the winner was Southport Film Guild.

Tom Ainsworth receives the Roebuck Cup


Tony Curtis presents the Film Society of the Year Awards

On a trip to London, legendary film star Tony Curtis took time out to present the 1987 Film Society of the Year Awards causing many a star-struck moment. Tom Ainsworth, of Manchester and Salford Film Society, was awarded the Roebuck Cup for his dedication to the film society movement.

New logo for BFFS - rebranded as Cinema For All


BFFS becomes Cinema For All

Following a long consultation with the membership, it was decided that BFFS’s long held mission statement ‘Cinema For All’ would replace British Federation of Film Societies as the organisation’s trading name.