Film Groups Focus on Cinema Buffs [Chicago Area]

While Oscar-nominated movies garner a lot of attention this month, area film societies are strong and plentiful and cater to various tastes.


With the ubiquity of DVDs, Blu-ray and the technology that enables us to pull from the air just about any movie we want to see when we want to see it, it would seem only natural that film societies are unnecessary relics. But for many film lovers, the chance to see great movies with others and then  discuss them is irresistible.

There are a number of film societies that are thriving and growing in the western suburbs.

Elmhurst College Classic Film Society

The Elmhurst College Classic Film Society “was started by me in December of 2009 to screen old classic movies,” Donald Romano says. “We started off very small, sometimes seven or eight people showing up. Our last few films, however, have brought us anywhere from 50 to 60 people, which is very exciting for us.”

Admission is free and open to the public. The next showing will be Feb. 18 or 25. The film has not yet been selected, but Jean-Luc Goddard’s “Breathless” and David Lean’s “Brief Encounter” are the most likely candidates. Films are shown at 8 p.m. on Fridays. For more information about the Elmhurst College Classic Film Society, contact

After Hours Film Society

Since 1989, the After Hours Film Society has been providing film lovers “with the most comprehensive line-up of foreign, classic and specialty films available. And, to further enhance the experience, each screening will be followed by a lecture or group discussion led by educators and film professionals.”

Films are shown at 7:30 p.m. on second and fourth Monday of every month (except December, when films are shown on the first Monday only) at the Tivoli Theatre, 5021 Highland Ave., Downers Grove. The 1,000-seat theater is 75 years old. Patrons attending film society screenings are entertained by live music from a 1924, three-manual, 10-rank Wurlitzer theater organ. Admission is $5 for members and $9 for nonmembers. Annual memberships are available for $25 for individuals and $35 for a family.

Contact the After Hours Film Society at Dept. WS, P.O. Box 3534, Glen Ellyn, IL 60138-3534. Or phone (630) 534-4528. E-mail The Tivoli Theatre can be contacted at (630) 968-0219.

Silent Film Society

Silent films often are said to be the only pure cinema since they tell stories with images only. Tragically, more than 80 percent of all silent film prints are gone forever. The Silent Film Society of Chicago “is dedicated to preserving the silent film heritage by bringing it to today’s audiences through its proper presentation.”
Part of that proper presentation is the theaters in which the society screens silent films. The society uses three theaters, one of which is the Arcada Theatre at North Avenue (Rt. 64) and the Fox River in St. Charles. The first film shown there by the society was “The General,” with Buster Keaton in 2002. The 900-seat Arcada opened in 1927 and has been restored, along with the theater’s organ.

Membership in the Silent Film Society of Chicago Society is $35 for individuals and $30 for senior citizens and full-time students. Membership includes discounted admission to screenings. For more information about the society, call (773) 205-SFSC, or e-mail

Hinsdale Public Library Foundation’s Film Society

Some public libraries have begun hosting film societies of their own. For example, the Hinsdale Public Library Foundation’s Film Society meets at 6:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month in the library’s large meeting room, 20 E. Maple St.  A discussion follows each film. The next film will be screened on Feb. 17. For more information and to find out what is showing, call (630) 986-1976.

La Grange Public Library Classic Film Club

The La Grange Public Library Classic Film Club meets and screens a film on the third Friday of every month at the library, 10 W. Cossitt Ave., La Grange. The next showing will be at 1 p.m. Feb. 18. Registration is required.  Call (708) 352-0576. E-mail

Film societies don’t view themselves as merely static museums.

At Elmhurst College, Donald Romano is focused on growing Classic Film Society.

“We have free popcorn and cookies and free Elmhurst College Classic Film Society pins for first-time visitors,” he says. “And for $15 you can get a film society T-shirt. We also have a raffle for a DVD copy of the film being screened which is also free. We have a suggestion box and are always open for discussion after the films.”

Romano said that he is working with a catering company to offer dinner and movie event, a project which may materialize by March.


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  1. Thanks so much for adding this list. I’ve been a member of the Chicago Silent Film Society for years. However I did not know about the others. Knowing for me is a treat.

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