St. John Film Society Is Kicking Off Free Monthly Screenings February 10

St. John residents won’t have to travel off-island to screen an interesting independent flick anymore, thanks to a group of St. John filmmakers and film buffs.

The brainchild of Andrea Leland, Martha Hills, Sigi Torinus, Felicia Olivieri Torres and Rea Roberts, the St. John Film Society is launching free monthly screenings starting on Tuesday, February 10, at 7 p.m. at Sputnik’s Bar in Coral Bay.

Independent films with Caribbean content or connections will be featured at the monthly screenings, which will take place each month in Coral Bay and in the future in Cruz Bay as well.

In addition to screening a variety of fiction and non-fiction films focused on Caribbean cultures and environments, the St. John Film Society is also inviting local filmmakers to share their work each month, explained Leland.

“We’re asking local filmmakers to present a short of their films or a part of their work-in-progress with the audience,” Leland said. “Afterwards we’ll talk about the piece. We want to create an environment where there can be a lot of discussion.”

The first film featured will be “Africa Unite” a documentary concert tribute to Bob Marley by director Stephanie Black. The film includes performances by Marley’s widow Rita and sons Ziggy, Stephen, Julian, Damian, and Ky-Mani, along with a few vintage clips of Bob Marley himself in action.

William Stelzer is the first featured artist for the Film Society. A local filmmaker and editor of a variety of art, video, print, web, education and computer graphic projects, Stelzer will present a short video compilation created for the Waveplace project, which  brought XO laptops to schoolchildren in Haiti, Nicaragua, Florida and St. John.

With the intention of fostering an atmosphere where different groups can come together to view and discuss films, members have big plans for the burgeoning St. John Film Society, explained Roberts.

“The film festival will eventually be a bigger event, but the earliest it could happen is April 2010,” said Roberts. “We’re hoping the festival will evolve, but we’re starting with the monthly screenings. We thought it was smarter to start out small and grow from there.”

The Film Society is a non-profit organization run completely by volunteers, and has partnered with the St. John Community Foundation which is the group’s fiscal sponsor. While the screenings are free, the group does need funds to achieve its goals, Leland explained.

“It’s a voluntary organization, but we need funds because we want to buy our own projector and buy the films we’re going to show,” said Leland. “We’d like to create a film society library. We’re looking for donations, which are tax deductible and payable to the St. John Community Foundation.”

The Film Society is also partnering with local video store owner Catherine Fahy of Kaleidoscope Video who will purchase and rent films screened at the group’s monthly events. Fahy will also carry titles recommended by the society.

Any local filmmaker who would like to share their work should contact Roberts at 715-9899. For more information or to make a tax deductible donation email or call 715-9899.