Kathryn Hecht, the Executive Director/Founder of the ALEXANDER VALLEY FILM SOCIETY (AVFS) gave a brief history of its development and an overview of its objectives.
Kathryn Hecht, the Executive Director/Founder of the ALEXANDER VALLEY FILM SOCIETY (AVFS) gave a brief history of its development and an overview of its objectives.
Kathryn and her husband, Ryan, moved to Sonoma County in late 2013 to help revive the Clover Theatre in Cloverdale. Kathryn previously had a long career as an actress and had recently been doing administrative work for nonprofits along with working in public education. They realized that it would be difficult for the Clover Theater to survive as a commercial enterprise showing non-independent films due primarily to the small  size of the audience and the large him costs of renting the films. A little over a year ago they attended a regional conference on theaters at the Rafael Theater in Mill Valley and were introduced to the Mill Valley Film Society . They thought that this model would work in Sonoma County and that there was a need for such an institution here. This started them on a program of enlisting involvement from community members in Cloverdale, educators at the 3 school districts in northern Sonoma County (Healdsburg, Geyserville and Cloverdale) and enlisting the help of talents with whom Catherine was familiar from her career in Los Angeles. The Alexander Valley Film Society is a result of those meetings.
The Mission of the Film Society is to “enrich our community by captivating and engaging audiences, cultivating new fans of film, and celebrating our collective humanity using cinema through an annually produced Film Festival and year-round film programming.”
In February of this year they held an Oscar Gala at the Clover Theater, raising over $12,000 and creating much local “buzz” about the Film Society. In March, they began bimonthly screenings in the public schools and in May began monthly screenings of legacy and independent films at both the Raven Film Center and Clover Theaters.
As currently structured, there are 3 arms of the program.
The FILM SOCIETY aims to provide cultural enrichment programs for the community. To those ends they have a membership program with benefits, monthly screenings of legacy and independent films, first-run preview screenings as they become available, film pairings with local chefs, artists and experts to create multidimensional experiences beyond the screen, a film Club with a 6 week series in the spring and fall and a program of summer drive-in movies.
The ALEXANDER VALLEY FILM LAB is working with school districts and youth leaders to provide programs that create access and opportunities for students in public schools. These include animation workshops with Pixar animator, Adam Burke, an annual student film competition in conjunction with the AV Film Festival, quarterly screenings followed by questions and answers with filmmakers or subject area experts, student internships on film sets, and production skills training for students and teachers. Already, students are beginning to benefit from these projects. The school districts, with the help of outside individuals, are participating in screenings of films by transporting students to and from the Clover and Raven theater complexes.
The FILM FESTIVAL, the 3rd arm of the program, will have its inaugural event on October 22 and 23rd with screenings in Cloverdale and Healdsburg, panel discussions and workshops, on October 23-25th. This will include 2 full days of independent films, student films and local artists to make visible to the community those who work here in producing films. The Festival is meant to be an inclusive, community-building program that through arts helps us to recognize and develop the diversity that exists within our community.
Members wishing to find out more about the organization should visit the website, www.avfilmsociety.org . The AVFS is a 501(c)(3) entity and contributions are fully tax-deductible.