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At the movies: Shepherdstown Film Society starts season with reception and movie presentation

By Staff | Sep 13, 2019

From left, Frank VanHilst, of Shepherdstown, talks with Pam Miller, of Shepherdstown, and Anne Kerfoot, of Williamsport, Md. during Friday evening's reception in the War Memorial Building. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — On Friday night in the War Memorial Building, Shepherdstown Film Society celebrated the beginning of its 16th year and fall season with a reception, followed by a “First Reformed” film showing and discussion in Reynolds Hall.

While some seasons focus on a specific theme, this season’s movies were selected by the society because of their quality and originality.

“There’s a lot of people in our group who are real film aficionados,” said SFS chair Lisa Welch. “We continue to have a steady and interested audience, and that keeps us wanting to do it.”

According to Welch, the movie showings have been paid for by the Scarborough Society since 2008. The society was founded in 2004, inspired by Shepherd University film professor Rachel Krantz’s film course. Shepherdstown Opera House had, by that time, stopped showing films, and the society wanted to once again be able to see films in town.

“It’s just an opportunity to see movies in Shepherdstown. We’re always open to suggestions from the audience,” Welch said. “A lot of our movies aren’t that current. Today’s movie was from last year, but another film this season is from the ’30s.”

Shepherdstown resident Randall Tremba leads the film discussion for "First Reformed" in Reynolds Hall on Friday night. Tabitha Johnston

For Shepherdstown resident Susan Kern, the society’s film choices have sometimes been a pleasant surprise.

“It’s interesting, because they’re mostly old films,” Kern said, mentioning she usually attends the film showings whenever she’s in town. “They showed ‘The Deerhunter’ last year, and that was actually a film of my youth. I always meant to see it.”

The film choices, for younger attendees, have also helped them expand their film knowledge.

“I graduated from Shepherd University in 2000 and started coming when the society first started up,” said Raymond Teneyck. “I really appreciate the selection. Almost all of the movies have social significance or something challenging in their message — or they’re just wacky and show the human side of life.”

After each film showing, a community member leads a group discussion of the film. On Friday, the film discussion leader was former Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church pastor and Shepherdstown resident Randall Tremba.

Shepherdstown Film Society chair Lisa Welch welcomes a full room of moviegoers to the opening night of the fall film season in Reynolds Hall on Friday night. Tabitha Johnston

“I’m looking forward to the discussion,” Tremba said. “The film features two pastors from two churches and two views of the Christian faith. I can’t identify with either of them.

“All film makers want you to feel something, think something and do something, so during the discussion, I’m going to ask if this film has made you feel something, think something or want to do something,” Tremba said, as the full room of community members sat in Reynolds Hall, waiting for the lights to darken and the film credits to begin rolling.

To learn more about the Shepherdstown Film Society, visit shepherdstownfilmsociety.org.

Annette VanHilst, of Shepherdstown, waits for her glass of wine to be poured by reception coordinator Mina Goodrich, as Shepherdstown Film Society members Lisa Welch and Larry Dean, far right, watch, on Friday night in the War Memorial Building. Tabitha Johnston