The Wellesley Film Society has reestablished its presence on campus this semester thanks to efforts from its new e-board members. According to Co-President Breanna White ’22, the Film Society has a long history on campus dating back to the ’50s and ’60s. Before the pandemic, they held screenings in Collins Cinema every weekend. During the 2020-2021 academic year, they could not hold in-person screenings, previous e-board members graduated and the society became inactive. White was a member before the pandemic, and when restrictions on campus loosened, she wanted to bring the society back.
“I reconstituted it because I wanted to rekindle the fun that I found back when I was an underclassman,” White said. “I [was] thinking about how those screenings united so many people.”
Co-President Demeter Appel-Riehle ’25 reached out to White, and together they have made the society active again and planned film screenings. Their most highly attended screening so far has been “10 Things I Hate About You.” This past Friday, they screened “Titane” and “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” for a double feature on foreign films.
“[The society is] definitely a lot more underground than it was before. I feel like beforehand, it was an institution where it was kind of a given that there would be screenings at [7 p.m.] every weekend,” White said. “We’re trying to gain the prominence that we had before.”
While White and Appel-Riehle hope to regain the popularity that the society had before the pandemic, they also want to make changes in the organization.
“We’re trying to increase the amount of diversity in the programming because we want to reflect the student body,” White said.
To broaden the scope of the films that the society screens, Appel-Riehle established a subgroup within the society called Film Cult, which is dedicated to “independent, foreign and obscure film” according to the group’s Instagram. Film Cult started out as a casual group composed of Appel-Riehle and his cinephile friends, but once they started inviting others to join, they realized it would be a good idea to make the group more official. Recently, Film Cult screened three films directed by Gregg Araki, a Japanese American filmmaker whose work was instrumental to the New Queer Cinema movement of the ’90s.
“Our plan for next semester is to have Film Cult programming once a month through the Film Society,” Appel-Riehle said. “[We are] taking an internal look at the directors that we screen and who the lead actors are in those movies … The Film Cult is a way for us to … give people … the opportunity to see something that they would never come across otherwise.”
The society decides what films to screen for next year during the preceding spring, since they have to obtain legal access to screen the films. The society is currently in the final stages of voting for next year’s films, a process in which all members get a say.
“A lot of our submissions were pretty unique,” Projectionist Chair Magdalena Manrique ’25 said. “We have a lot of very specific genres [of] double features that we’re going to be doing. I think that’s a fun way to introduce someone to a genre that they maybe haven’t seen before.”
The society’s e-board encourages anyone who is interested to reach out to them, as their main goal is to get more members and more people attending screenings.
“We’re obviously getting back on our feet,” Manrique said. “So if anyone’s interested in joining, now’s the time to come and join to be a part of making it what you want it to be.”