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Not for Profit: St. John Film Society

March 29, 2009 — The St. John Film Society is taking up some of the island's cultural slack with its airing of independent films linked to the Caribbean or to some local event. The evenings will also feature presentations by local video makers or video-installation artists.
They'll run at 7 p.m. the first Tuesday of every month at Sputnik in Coral Bay. The shows are free, but donations are appreciated "so we can buy our own equipment and have a film festival," said founding member Andrea Leland.
She suggested that filmgoers bring their own chairs since they are in short supply at Sputnik, located in the heart of Coral Bay across from Guy Benjamin School.
Early in February, the group aired "Africa Unite," a musical documentary about Bob Marley. St. John film maker Bill Stelzer was on hand to discuss his works.
Later that month, timed for just before the annual 8 Tuff Miles race, the Film Society showed "Run for your Life." While it isn't tied to the Caribbean, it's the story of the origins of the New York City Marathon. And Moe Chabuz, who owns Skinny Legs Bar and Restaurant and runs marathons, made a presentation on the film he's making about the 8 Tuff Miles race.
Leland, a filmmaker, is drawing on her experience and connections in the filmmaking world to find suitable films. She wants to hear suggestions from local groups, and plans to set up a "St. John Film Society Recommends" shelf at Kaleidoscope Video rentals in the Marketplace shopping center and in Coral Bay.
The fledgling organization currently has four founding members.
They include Leland, an artist and filmmaker who has produced and directed a number of award-winning documentaries focusing on Caribbean and Latin American cultures. Those documentaries include "The Jamesie Project," featuring St. Croix resident Jamesie Brewster and the All Stars scratch band. She is the co-founder of REELTIME, a highly successful monthly film series in the Chicago area, now in its 10th year.
Rea McQueen Roberts has a background in advertising, public relations and marketing. Her expertise includes special-event planning and fundraising.
Martha Hills is a writer and an avid film enthusiast. She is active in the St John community and a volunteer in several local endeavors.
The final founding member, Sigi Torinus, creates hybrid new media works with an emphasis on video, performance and site-specific installation. Her works have been exhibited in the United States, the Caribbean, Europe, Australia and Canada. She is a founder of "Berlin and Beyond Film Festival" in San Francisco, now in its 14th year.
Contributions are funneled through the St. John Community Foundation, which makes them tax-deductible.
The group initially thought if would hold a film festival, but that endeavor proved too expensive. The members decided to get their feet wet with monthly screenings.
"It's an opportunity to come together as a community," Leland said.
Reach the St. John Film Society via email or call 715-9899. Visit it on the web at lovecityfilm.net.
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