History of HFS
The original cinema in Aberfeldy (The Birks) closed in the early 1980s. Thanks to community fundraising the cinema was totally refurbished before re-opening in April 2013, but for around 30 years the town and wider area had no local cinema. During this period The Highland Film Society saw the opportunity to provide films for the Aberfeldy community.
The Society was established in 2001 to:
With the help of Dave Skelsey (then secretary of the British Federation of Film Societies in Scotland), the first steps were taken towards setting up a film society. We started with a free showing of ‘As Good As It Gets’ which was extremely successful.
We decided then to try a short three month season in early 2002 showing three adult films and one children’s matinee. Then followed six 6-month seasons (April to September and October to March) and in 2005 it was decided to move to a ten film season with a summer break in July and August. You can see some of the films we have shown on the previous films page. We have also organised several film festivals, all with a theme. Visit the previous festivals and events page for more info.
The membership numbers for each season have varied but at times it has reached 95 and the mailing list of members and friends is substantially more than this. Most of our members live within or near Aberfeldy but our catchment area extends further afield in all directions across Highland Perthshire.
In 2004, we won the British Federation of Film Societies’ Best New Film Society award. The judges made special mention of the novel and unique method that HFS uses to evaluate the success of each film shown (the Bean-O-Meter). Not only that but we received commendation for the programme notes issued for each screening. In 2009 and 2010 we held very successful Film Festivals in November, and the film festival has since become an annual fixture in the mid November calendar. We also launched a new short film competition for Scotland's film makers - the Palme Dewar award. The finals of that competition form part of the November film festival programme when we screen all the finalists' films and awards are made to the winners following voting by the jury and the public attending those screenings.
Until The Birks Cinema re-opened in 2013, the main venue we used was The Locus Centre in Aberfeldy town square, which opened in early 2001. It has an auditorium of 55 seats with built in digital media centre. In Autumn 2001, the nascent HFS committee became aware that the Locus Centre would be an excellent venue for showing films.
In the years leading up to 2013 a huge fundraising effort was launched by the local community, through the Friends of the Birks Cinema, to refurbish the old cinema (The Birks) in Aberfeldy. This led to the opening of a state of the art 100 seat digital cinema at The Birks in April 2013. Heartland Film Society was invited to transfer its programme of monthly screenings to The Birks, which we did immediately. This means we can now show our films at the best possible local venue, as well as helping to support The Birks.
Our yearly season, starting each September, has a wide variety of films that complement the main programming of The Birks, and includes many films that are slightly outside the mainstream. This gives us a chance to introduce filmgoers to new directors, film styles and cinema from around the world. Most of the screenings for our annual Aberfeldy Film Festival each November are now shown at The Birks - with the remainder being generously hosted by Dewar's World of Whisky, also in Aberfeldy. Throughout the year we also host occasional special HFS film evenings or double-bills, by arrangement with The Birks management.
HFS is run as a self-funding venture - membership fees cover only the cost of putting on films, film festivals and promotional material. Why not join us and become a member. It is not essential to join in advance - members and non-members alike can come along to any of the performances ... but members get a discounted price for all HFS screenings at The Birks.