History of Welwyn Garden City Film Society

The Society was founded in 1946 with the express purpose of bringing quality cinema to the then expanding Garden City

Despite early brushes with the local cinema management, the Society maintained its annual programming, using various local venues, including the Barn Theatre, and, more recently, the College of Further Education.

In the first few years of its history, the Society also boasted a film-making group, which made several short films, including the award-winning "Opus One" in 1948. In the early 80s the Society played host to a celebration of the work of the Welwyn Film Studios which contributed many films to the history of British cinema from 1928 to 1951. During those years such luminaries as Alfred Hitchcock, Flora Robson, Anna Neagle, Anthony Asquith, Robert Newton and Alec Guinness all worked there.
In more recent decades, the Society has included children’s film shows on Saturday mornings in its programming, and discussion evenings, welcoming such directors as Paul Hills (Boston Kickout), Udayan Prasad (My Son The Fanatic), Paul Morrison (Solomon & Gaenor and Wondrous Oblivion), Andrea Arnold (Wasp, Red Road, and Fish Tank), Thomas Hamilton (Leslie Howard, the Man who gave a Damn) and film critics such as Philip Strick—an Ingmar Bergman enthusiast.

Since 1978, it has met regularly at Campus West Theatre, successively renamed The Hawthorne Theatre in 2010 and Garden City Cinema in 2013. This has excellent commercial film-showing facilities and a comfortable auditorium. The cinema has in recent years been converted to three screens.

A complete history of the Society, written by a former chairman of some twenty years' tenure, Fred Aicken, is available from the Society at £2-50.

It is sad to report that Fred died in 2018 at the age of 98.
The Committee send their condolences to his family and, most of all, thanks to Fred for his service to the Society for so long.

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