Half Moon Bay Coastside Film Society: 200 films and going strong
by Emily Berk
Eight years ago, a group of inspired local filmmakers and film aficionados met to change the cultural landscape of the Coastside. About half had produced films on the coast that nobody in town had seen. Others in the group loved the small cinematic gems presented at art houses or college theaters in San Francisco or Palo Alto and wanted to present them to friends and neighbors closer to home. Thus was founded the Coastside Film Society.
Two hundred films later, CFS is still going strong. Under the leadership of Luanne Paul King, who helps select the films and keeps everyone on schedule, CFS has shown at least one feature a month since 2002.
Jean Slanger, a film major at UCLA, is the group’s secretary. Joe Devlin acts as information director. Judy Zilber is treasurer and Warren Haack of the San Francisco State film school is technical guru. Emily Berk volunteers as webmaster and Ellen Donnelly produces CFS’s monthly poster.
CFS prides itself on presenting a diverse — some say weird — selection of films that the members love. About a third of the films are locally produced; nearly half of the screenings feature live conversations with filmmakers or cast members.
People came from as far away as Los Angeles to experience Neil Young’s Greendale, which was shot in Half Moon Bay. CFS sold the Methodist Church out twice for that screening, although no one knew that Young would attend. (He did!)
Not every film CFS shows becomes famous. In April, CFS presents Silent Holy Stone, a Tibetan film screened only a handful of times in the U.S.; China may never allow this film into general distribution.
On the other hand, two years after it premiered at CFS, a comic musical about the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians called West Bank Story won an Academy Award for best short. And Pacifica-based director Gail Dolgin’s film Daughter from Danang competed with Bowling for Columbine for best documentary at the Oscars shortly after CFS showed it.
What’s next for the film society? In May, CFS presents a night of classic silent films with live musical accompaniment scored by local musicians. CFS also plans to incorporate some wonderful new shorts produced by local kids into upcoming movie nights.
You can read about CFS’s upcoming films in CoastViews. Or check the CFS Web site; if you click the Join button you will get regular e-mails about upcoming events.