This spring marks Film Club’s last movie series

While many people associate Film Club with its frequent, enthusiastic assembly announcements, few know what the Friday night meetings are actually like. These assembly spectators will not have the chance to see the meetings for themselves next year: the 2021-22 school year marks the club’s final year.

When looking back at Film Club’s time at Saint Paul Academy and Summit School, co-president Alice Duncan fondly remembers—like many others—the Film Club handshake. Duncan said, I really liked being able to go up during assemblies and do the announcements, because when I was in ninth grade the Film Club handshake was my favorite thing, so it was cool to get to lead that this year.” Though, this handshake will not be a feature of assembly announcements in the near future.

Disappointment is the first emotion to come to mind for Film Club co-president Mimi Huelster. “I’m disappointed of course,” Huelster said, “because I remember Film Club used to be such an institution here. But then, with the pandemic, I think it sort of lost steam.” The pandemic caused fear about gathering in large groups of people, which is the essence of Film Club. Students would get together on Friday nights with lots of snacks provided. But now, people are less into those types of activities for a variety of reasons.

One reason is the new value people place on their alone time. “I think a lot of people value their free time a lot more. These people would rather watch a movie at home or with friends rather than come to school to do so,” Huelster said.

We had a great run. I’m really thankful for the people that I’ve met through it.”

— Mimi Huelster

As for alternatives to the large group setting, Huelster doesn’t see any working out. “We used Netflix Party during the pandemic and it was fun, but it’s not the same. There’s something so much more fun about being there with people and getting reactions live rather than having to type a comment out and then putting it in the chat,” Huelster said. Netflix Party was a good solution to the lockdown phase of the pandemic, but it does not translate into this stage of it. Huelster does not see Netflix Party as a sustainable way to keep Film Club going.

Huelster believes that plenty of students love movies, love to watch movies and love to talk about movies. But they’re just not willing to meet up during an official time after school to talk about them. Since the pandemic, there has been a major decrease in the number of people who participate in clubs. “I think a lot of clubs have definitely felt there have been less and less participants,” said Huelster. It is clear that people have become less inclined towards participating in activities scheduled into the school day, and even less inclined towards participating in ones outside of school. Duncan shares this sentiment. Duncan said, “For the majority of the last two years, most movies just had me, Mimi, Seves (Eric Severson), and then one or two other people in the club.”

Huelster is grateful for the memories and relationships Film Club has provided her. “We had a great run. I’m really thankful for the people that I’ve met through it. There are a couple of people who have since graduated SPA that I still keep in touch with that I met through Film Club,” said Huelster. The fall of Film Club due to the COVID-19 pandemic represents the nature of change, especially how global events can alter the culture of communities. Huelster is okay with the change and excited to explore new things. For next year, some possible collaborations between Huelster and other clubs are in the works. “I have chatted a couple times about maybe doing an Intercultural Club sponsored film showing and I’d be super down to put one together.” Huelster could see this kind of collaboration working with other clubs as well.

While Duncan does not envision Film Club starting back up in the next year, she does not think this marks the end of Film Club. Duncan said, “While I’m sad that it’s Film Club’s last year, I feel like it’ll probably come back eventually. People really like movies.” Like any community, SPA changes and adapts based on who is a part of it. Though there will be no Film Club next year, hope is not lost. The power to revive Film Club is in the hands of students.