Slough Cooperative Film Society Slough Cooperative Film Society

The Society has been showing the best of world and independent cinema in Slough for 70 years

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The Co-operative Movement

The following notes are a much condensed version of a booklet by Clive Dellow which the society published 1996 under the evocative title: Lights Out and the Stars Appear.

The society was born in 1946 following the lead of the Gerrards Cross Film Society which had been the first in the area. The first public announcement was by Kenneth Allsop in the Slough, Eton and Windsor Observer. The inaugural show was on 28th November 1946 screening 49th Parallel. The intention was to meet once a month and screen American, British, French and Russian films. The follow-up was Of Mice and Men screened on 19th December.

In 1947 the society held its first one-day "school". This one examined (and rejected on grounds of cost) the possibility of setting up a film making unit. The society is based relatively close to the main British studios: Pinewood and Denham and many of its members in the early days must have been drawn from the ranks of film makers. Among early screenings were The Bridge (Yugoslavian) , Great Adventure (a Labour Party film), Song of Freedom, King of Kings (which was much banned from commercial cinemas at the time), Paisa, Open City as well as more commercial material such as The Red Shoes.

In 1948 there was also a Slough Film Society but that was more concerned with film making than screening. (A trend at the time to combine the shooting and appreciation of films.) The two combined occasionally over the years for special occasions but only the Co-operative Society has survived.

In the early years the society had a series of more or less acceptable venues including the Cooperative Restaurant Hall. Its current venue is the Mars Lecture Theatre at Thames Valley University.

Catering has always played a part in the society's success. For example in 1986 a Dutch evening was held when Dutch visitors to the London Film Festival were tempted to Slough for a buffet supper. In 1987 "A Taste of India" offered an evening of fine film and food.

The society has always been willing to experiment. Its special events in recent years have included a contribution to Slough Environment Day when they showed The Emerald Forest. In conjunction with Amnesty they screened Lion's Den and to draw attention to another world issue screened Leila and the Wolves with Gail Becket, a health worker explaining something of life in today's Palestine. They screened The Fabulous Baker Boys with English subtitles and live sign language translation for the deaf. They help organise occasional film study courses - most recently as part of the British Film Centenary celebrations. Among the society's more prominent officers who have also played a part on the national British film society scene are the late Edith Cobbett and the very much alive

 Dudley Smithers.

Cooperative Principals