Alternative Film Society celebrates a quarter century

The group brings the best alternative films from around the world to the big screen in Smithers

For 25 years the Smithers Alternative Film Society has been showcasing independent, classic, and foreign films in the Bulkley Valley.

“It gives us an opportunity to show the best of alternate films, movies that wouldn’t make it here otherwise,” said Bill Price, who founded the organization with Anne-Marie Findlay, his wife, in 1996. “The films we show are outside the standard big budget Hollywood fare and include the best films from around the world. For most of us this is our only opportunity to see these films in the way they were made to be seen, on the big screen.”

The first SAFS presentation was held at Smithers Secondary School. The film was The Third Man, released in 1949 and starring Orson Welles and Alida Valli. Since then, SAFS has been holding their showings at the Roi Theatre.

“We are very lucky to have the Roi Theatre available to show our films. A major part of any success we have had is the support of Art Buchanan and now Lorne and Angela Buchanan and their staff at the Roi Theatre,” said Price.

“I enjoy seeing [independent films] because they provide you with different perspectives on the world,” said Price.

“These films being made by people who want to tell a story throughout the world… they don’t necessarily appeal to enough people to fill the theatre for two weeks running, but they appeal to a group that will fill the theatre for a night.”

The society also works with other groups in the community to put on events. In 2019 they put on a showing of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Can You Read My Mind” with the BV Folk Music Society in September, and a showing of “They Shall Not Grow Old” with the Bulkley Valley Museum in November.

“Our secondary objectives are to be sustainable, pay our own way, have a light foot print and be able to give back to the community,” said Price.

“We are a small organization, and all our profit is periodically donated to community service charities.

“We keep our costs down, we pay to see the movies like everyone else, and we don’t compete for social funding.”

The organization shows roughly 12-14 films a year during the fall and winter months.

Films are shown every second Sunday at the Roi Theatre at 6 p.m., with tickets available for regular theatre admission price.

The three final showings of this winter are Feb. 16 (Pain and Glory) Mar. 1 (One Day in the Life of Noah Piaguttuk) and Mar. 15 (Sorry We Missed You).

The Smithers Alternate Film Society plans to resume its presentations autumn. More information about film showings put on by SAFS can be found on their Facebook page.

“Film delivery is arranged by the Film Circuit of the Toronto Film Festival, who also provides programming advice,” said Price. “We look forward to continuing for another 25 years.”

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