South West Group Bounces Back…for Now

Bath Viewng 3 Wharf Room audience lrTwo and a half years since their last Viewing Session, due to various lockdowns and cancellations, Cinema for All’s South West Group returned in April with a successful event attracting over 70 delegates from 19 of the region’s Societies. The selection of six titles, all from Cinema for All’s Booking Scheme, were screened in two venues in the Widcombe Social Club near the centre of Bath.   It was clear that attendees were pleased to be back previewing titles, meeting up with old friends and sharing their experiences in reviving their film societies and community cinemas after Covid.

Despite this revival, there are concerns that the Group may not be able to continue in its support of local Film Societies. This has risen following the retirement of organiser and projectionist Paul Schilling and David Tolcher, the editor of the South West eNewsletter, moving away from the region.

The Group committee is asking all Cinema for All members in the South West to think about what they would like the Group to offer and, if it is to continue, whether they individually would like to help. Group Secretary Jane Sanders is asking members to send their thoughts to her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A request has also gone out for Societies to volunteer to host future Viewing Sessions.

Since the relaunch of Group Viewings at Dorchester in November 1976, there have been 94 such events previewing over 450 titles, initially on 16mm, sometimes 35mm, projectors and more recently on digital projectors on VHS, DVD and Bluray. Over the 47 years, forty Societies have hosted the SW Viewings very successfully. Committee member, Andrew Fairhurst, has been asking Societies to consider being hosts so that regular Viewings can be organised; he can be contacted atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..    

Thanks to Paul Schilling

One noticeable absence at the SW Viewing at Bath was that of Paul Schilling – if the Viewing had followed the usual pattern of the last 40 or so years, then he would have been one of the main organisers and the projectionist in the second been Paul Schilling. However, back in last summer, Paul retired from the South West Group executive, largely for health reasons.

Paul, already known for his work at Shaftesbury Arts Centre, joined the Group in the 1980’s and was responsible for launching many new Societies in the region as well as organising Training Days, Viewing Sessions and Film Days. He became chair in 1992 and served for ten years, setting up the South West Group’s own Block Booking Scheme, first lugging 16mm spools himself between Societies and later moving on to VHS tapes and DVDs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         All this inspiring work was deservedly recognised in 1997 when he was presented with the Roebuck Cup by director Alan Parker at the Film Society of the Year awards.

DSC 1556 lrTwenty-five years later, the SW Group executive felt Paul should receive an award closer to home and presented him with a statuette to thank him for all the film fun they had had together. He will be greatly missed – not only for his dexterity with multiple formats over the years but for his passion for all aspects of cinema and his endless support and enthusiasm.