Film & TV Lunch Club: an introduction

I started a new job last year and it was almost immediately apparent how much I was going to miss discussion, exploration of perspectives and creative side of teaching - both for English and Media Studies. So two months in I started a film club, which soon turned into a TV and Film club, which eventually morphed into the HSS Film and TV Lunch Club.

Since last July, we've had monthly lunch time meetings where we've discussed and agreed on lots of titles based around a theme. I normally choose the themes based on the time of year or an 'International Day of....' observed by the UN. We quickly decided it was important to have a mix of fact and fiction, so we try to have at least one documentary choice, and it is also important that we have a balanced representation of gender. To do that, we make sure that at least one of our titles is F-Rated. Here are a selection of some of our themes and titles watched last year:

War: The Hurt Locker (2008; Dir: Kathryn Bigelow), Black Hawk Down (2001; Dir: Ridley Scott), Full Metal Jacket (1987; Dir: Stanley Kubrick).

Friendship: Thelma and Louise (1991; Dir: Ridley Scott), Wine Country (2019; Dir: Amy Poehler), Stand By Me (1986; Dir: Rob Reiner).

Back to School: Napoleon Dynamite (2004; Dir: Jared Hess), The Breakfast Club (1985; Dir: John Hughes), Roll Red Roll (2018; Dir: Nancy Schwartzman) - poster for this month pictured!

Black History Month: Moonlight (2016; Dir: Barry Jenkins), Hidden Figures (2016; Dir: Theodore Melfi), The Loving Story (2011; Dir: Nancy Buirski).

In terms of how it works on an organisational level, the three titles for discussion at the meet up are emailed to a group of people in a mailing list with a brief synopsis and IMDB link, as well as a 'long list' of additional titles, should they want to watch more. They're then sent an invite in Outlook with the same message, and indicate whether or not they can make it. The meetings last an hour, I come with questions to begin the discussion and we have a discussion over lunch. It's rare that everyone who attends has watched all three titles, but there is no pressure to do this (it's meant to be a fun, sociable club!) and also means that people go away with recommendations. Finally, people come with suggestions for the next month's theme, which are noted and then collated soon after based on the criteria outlined above, as well as considering how accessible the titles are. If they're not easy to get hold of, it's unlikely it will get listed, although we have shared DVDs around a couple of times too!

A couple of times, when I was looking online for suggestions for titles, there wasn't too much I could find on Google, so I thought it would be good to start blogging about each month's theme here to help others who may find themselves in the same situation! I also thought it might be interesting to share so that when I share future blog posts with friends, they can comment their suggestions for the next month, as well as share their own opinions about the films on our list.

Do you run a film club? Do you have any advice or suggestions for how to make our Film and TV club even more engaging or inclusive? Please let me know via the comments, Twitter or the contact page.