Tag Archives: martha marcy may marlene

Brian Clay’s Suggested Programme

Following on from the Fantasy Film Programmes from Richard and Bryony, we’ve asked community cinema programmers to give their suggestions for a film programme. These programmes will form a regular feature for the blog so if you want to suggest your own please get in contact at rich.bffs@gmail.com

In this post Brian Clay from BFFS South West, and an experienced film society organiser for many years, gives his thoughts. 

Apart from selecting films for Viewing Sessions and advising new societies, I haven’t chaired a Selection Meeting for 20 years but I thought I would try and apply the ground rules I settled on in my days at Dorchester to come up with a programme for a society in a small county town (even if, like Dorchester, they have a cinema!).

I feel that the building blocks for an attractive season of films are:

1) Variety – a wide range of genres – mainstream, independent, foreign language, documentary

2) Hooks – the majority of the titles should have a strong selling point: these could be

  • Short-listing for major awards (Oscars/Baftas) or Festival prize winners – especially Foreign Language Oscars etc
  • Well-known director, actor
  • Good selection of World Cinema
  • Adaptation of well-known book
  • Controversial subject matter
  • Local connections – writer, director, subject matter
  • Successful at the box office – perhaps only a few titles but this brings recognition.
  • Critical acclaim – ditto.

On this basis, I have selected 12 films from DVD titles available at the moment with some selling points that informed my selection:

A Royal Affair

1.      Argo ­– BAFTA winner

2.      Beast of the Southern Wild – Oscar nominee

3.      A Royal Affair – 2013 Oscar nomination for Foreign Language Film

4.      Even the Rain – ideal Film Society fare: well-known leading actor, strong political narrative, involves film-making

5.      Amour – 2013 Oscar nomination for Best and Foreign Language Film

6.      Martha Macy May Marlene – US indie 

7.      The Imposter – acclaimed documentary

8.      I Wish ­ – this years’ “Monsieur Lazhar” 

9.      About Elly –director of ‘A Separation’, alternative view of modern-day Iran

10.   The Sapphires – over-looked at the box office due to the Skyfall effect

11.   Quartet – crowd-pleaser!

12.   Berberian Sound Studio – British indie with Toby Jones

Berberian Sound Studio

If the selection is to be for a season starting in September (as many do), I might substitute a few titles to be released during the summer: so, I might substitute ”No” for “Even the Rain”, for example.  I have included a few box office hits because even if the town has a cinema, many people expect the Film Society to include titles they may have missed.  Hope this is a start leading to an animated discussion!


A fantasy programme…

To celebrate the new MPLC Collection I have had a go at picking my own programme of films from the list for my fantasy community cinema – housed in a rural village hall with bakery & pub attached.

The Bryony Village Cinema Autumn Season 2013

To kick my season off with a bang I have chosen a bona fide classic. Regularly voted the best car chase ever this Gene Hackman starring thriller won 5 Oscars on its release in 1971. Popeye and Buddy are New York Cops on the hunt for the source of European drugs flooding into the city. Groundbreaking in its day and the source of inspiration for generations of action movies that followed, what better way to get my audience coming back for more. And if they really loved it I’d have a special screening of the sequel.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nP_7ZopT6oM?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]


One of the most critically acclaimed films of last year, I am (selfishly) programming this film because I missed it the first time round – but maybe my audience did too! The film is a powerful emotional thriller with a stand out performance from Elizabeth Olsen, a young girl who gets mixed up with a cult whose leader is played by the ever brilliant John Hawkes.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPLqzVECEhU?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]


Something a little bit different for my Halloween special, Gene Wilder stars as the grandson of the famous Frankenstein trying to play down the family fame. That is until he discovers his grandfathers journal, “How I Did It” and just can’t resist.

A hysterical parody of 1930s horror films from the director of Blazing Saddles.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOPTriLG5cU?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]


I couldn’t work for the British Federation of Film Societies and not include something with a  distinctly British feel. Based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s introspective sci-fi novel, Never Let Me Go follows a trio of children from their English boarding school to a shocking discovery that will stifle their yearnings for freedom and adventure. Andrew Garfield gives a heartbreaking performance and is my pick of the excellent cast which also features Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrea Riseborough.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXiRZhDEo8A?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]


  • December: Margaret | Kenneth Lonergan | US | 2011

There was an uproar in the critical community when this excellent film was only being shown at one London cinema last year. It was eventually picked up by some regional screens but in my duty to give my audience access to films that deserve to be seen – I have picked this engaging drama starring Anna Paquin as a 17 year old struggling to deal with her role in a fatal car accident.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POPLzI40Uiw?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]


What better treat for a Christmas ‘do’ than Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in sparkly frocks in this Howard Hawkes classic.

One that parents will be happy to bring their kids to, Wes Anderson‘s brilliant adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic.

(500) Days of Summer is a genuinely funny and endearing rom-com starring teen favourites (and heart-throbs!) Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt 

The teens (and Alien fans) of my village can’t get out to see the big blockbusters so they’ll thank me for giving them the chance to see Prometheus.

500 days

What do you think of my choices? What would you pick from the Collection for your film society or community cinema? You can see the full collection as part of the Booking Scheme Catalogue

BFFS and the Motion Picture Licensing Company present the MPLC Collection

BFFS is absolutely delighted to announce a fabulous new deal with the Motion Picture Licensing Company which will add 52 ‘big studio’ titles to the BFFS Booking Scheme. The films range from much loved classics such as All About EveAn Affair to Remember and The Day the Earth Stood Still, to ‘must see’ recent and new features like Martha Marcy May MarleneThe Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and The Tree of Life and all will be available on a Screen Your Own Copy basis for the same initial price* as our other Booking Scheme titles – £85 with no extra VAT to pay . (This offers a £5 discount per title compared with booking directly with MPLC.) 

Judi Dench in Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Judi Dench in Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Deborah Parker, BFFS Managing Director said, “We are so pleased to have developed this special offer with MPLC; it’s a marvellous opportunity for BFFS members and associates to programme a greater variety of classic films and new studio releases at a discount. We’ve selected some much loved, and exciting new titles and I’m sure all societies will find something their audiences will adore.”

David Taylor, Commercial Manager of MPLC said, “It’s been a fantastic opportunity to work with BFFS  and make some of our many wonderful titles more easily accessible to members through the excellent BFFS Booking Scheme. We hope this and the great discount does help BFFS members put together some very interesting and varied programmes.”  

The full list of titles is available as part of the full BFFS Booking Scheme catalogue. All you need to do is fill in the usual Booking Form with the film and date and return it to BFFS, we’ll then process your booking and you’ll receive an email direct from MPLC with your licence.

*After your screening you will need to fill in a returns form as MPLC titles are booked on a commercial basis. You will pay the minimum guarantee of £85 or 35% of the box office income on takings above £258. We will then invoice you at the end of the month in which your screening takes place.