Member spotlight

Blayney Film @ Íontas

Brigitte, Tommy and Brian set up their film club Blayney Film @ Íontas in Castleblayney in 2019. It has been a great success, and they’ve implemented some clever ideas to encourage their audiences to discuss the films after screenings.

The team has kindly put together a few paragraphs about what they do and what they hope to achieve with their screenings:

“We call our film club Blayney Film @ Íontas (Íontas being the Community and Arts Centre in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan in which we show our films). We run two seasons per year, each consisting of four to five films. Numbers attending vary (up to 50), but we usually have about 30-35 people. In the early seasons, we did no more than provide an introduction by one of us to the film we were about to show. After the film, we moved on to tea and biscuits – kindly provided free of charge by Íontas – during which there would be some chat about the film. 

“Tommy began to feel, however, that there should be a more structured approach to our engagement with our audience – that we were not taking full advantage of the potential of our viewing evenings. After some thought and discussion, we added a new element to our sessions: a post-film discussion with our audience, led by the three of us. That’s still followed by tea and biscuits – where, we note, the discussion on the film often continues.”

“The feedback to both the introductions and post-viewing discussions has been very positive. The introduction to a film would typically last about three or four minutes. We never, of course, try to ‘explain’ a film (the film must speak for itself): the goal is simply to give our audience some interesting or helpful context. For example, when we showed The Lives of Others, we spoke a little about the extent of the Stasi’s infiltration of East German society. When we showed About Endlessness, we alerted the audience to the absence of plot and linear narrative in the film in favour of a looser coherence produced by sketches featuring recurring characters, themes and dilemmas. When we showed Graduation, we felt it would be helpful to mention the corruption that continued after the Ceausescu regime.

“At the end of the film, the three of us move to the front of the audience and start the discussion, seeking first to get the audience’s reaction. There can be a reluctance on the part of the audience to speak up in front of others, in which case we will throw out a few of our own thoughts on the film, which will usually get the discussion going. To this end, it is useful that the three of us have seen the film in advance – we have a quality-control rule that all three of us must view potential films before selecting a film for inclusion in our season. This allows us to have some thoughts to offer the audience, which helps get the post-film discussion underway if there is an initial reluctance on the audience’s behalf to speak. But, often, the discussion is launched by comments from members of our audience.

“We believe now that both the introduction and post-film discussion (which would typically last 15-20 minutes) are indispensable for the greater appreciation of the films we show. Individual audience members will not all have the same ability to analyse a film, so our post-film discussion – we have been told – gives them a better appreciation of the richness of the piece of art they have just experienced.”

Blayney Film @ Íontas

Íontas Arts & Community Centre, Conabury, Castleblayney