LETTER: Remembering Film Society founder

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One of the late Roy Worskett’s notable accomplishments not specifically mentioned in Joshua Powling’s tribute (WSCT 5 September 2014) was Roy’s foundation of the Horsham Film Society.

In 1967 he gathered a small committee to launch the Society, which successfully invited membership subscriptions for an initial season of four films.

This opened on 31st March 1967 at the St John’s Ambulance Hall in Park Street with Fellini’s ‘Juliet of the Spirits’, setting the standard for many international films not then reaching the cinema chains or television screens.

In 1968 the Society was able to move to the old Capital Theatre, with a 16mm projector precariously mounted on planks across seats in the stalls.

In 1971 the British Film Institute was opening regional film theatres throughout the country and the success of the Society encouraged it to open negotiations with Roy and Horsham District Council to bring a film theatre to Horsham. This was achieved. Roy’s committee remained in day to day control but lost its independence. However, the public, rather than just members, could attend performance and the town gained a spanking new 35mm projector in the main auditorium of the new Capitol Theatre in North Street.

The film theatre opened gloriously with ‘Sunday, Bloody Sunday’ in January 1972. Roy, ever bold and persuasive, succeeding in capturing Glenda Jackson, star of the film, and its Director, John Schlesinger to open the evening. He announced from the stage that Glenda Jackson had agreed to become the Theatre’s President. However, as the months went by audiences fell away and in 1974 the Council took over to screen less esoteric films and it was the time for Roy and his colleagues to bow out.

Happily the Society Roy had created was subsequently reborn and flourishes today.

Richard Reed

Merryfield Drive, Horsham