A Cineastes Guide to York


Ben outlines his experiences with the various cinemas and cinema societies in and around York

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Image by Myke Simon, Unsplash

By Ben Jordan

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who looked into the societies on campus as soon as I got to Uni. They are an integral part of the student experience and something that I believe every student should take advantage of, both as an outlet for their existing interests and as a way to try something new. I’m also sure I’m not the only one here who is interested in watching and discussing films. In this article I will outline some of the things I wish I knew about both the campus and the city when I first came to Uni, with a particular emphasis on opportunities for those who are interested in cinema.

On campus there are three main cinema societies; York Student Cinema, the World Cinema Society, and the Movie Society. I’ll give a brief intro on each over the next few paragraphs.

York Student Cinema is an established society that has been around since the campus was first built in the 60s. They tend to show newer films around a month or so after they are out of cinema circulation. This is a great opportunity to catch something that you may have missed in its initial cinema run on the big screen. I’ve only been once to re-watch The Northman, but I came away having a better experience than when I saw it the first time in an Odeon; I have a friend who saw The Lighthouse there way back in 2020 when it was practically impossible to see it on a big screen, and I can assure you I was jealous. It’s pretty much like being in a cinema, only in a room full of students, which is surprisingly conducive to the atmosphere of most films. It costs £3 per screening for members, and £4 for non-members; membership for an entire year is £5, and you can also get an annual pass that lets you into every screening for £30 a year. Screenings are hosted throughout the week in term-time in P/X/001. You can follow York Student Cinema on Instagram @yorkstudentcinema, or contact them at ysc@yusu.org for more information.

The second society I’d like to speak about is the World Cinema Society. This is a society that I have a personal stake in, as I am currently the Secretary for this academic year. As a society we tend to host (free) foreign language films in V/N/045 on Friday nights, though in some cases they are hosted in other rooms. I’ve seen some of the best new releases (such as The Worst Person in the World) and some of the best films I have ever seen (such as Woman in the Dunes, Close-Up, and Beau Travail) there over the span of just six months. The society tends to choose a theme each week, and members then vote for which film they would like to see via a Google Form that is posted on both Instagram and via Email. For instance, themes that we have done over the past few months include Japanese Horror and Italian Neorealism. You’re always bound to see something interesting there, and even the few times that I have come away disliking a film I’ve always seen a new side of cinema that I often didn’t know that much about. You can get a membership for £5 a year, which will not only let you into every screening and add you to our mailing list but also give you some added benefits, such as potential access into York’s annual short film festival, Aesthetica. You can follow the World Cinema Society on Instagram @uoyworldcinema, or contact us at worldcinema@yusu.org for more information.

The third and final society I’d like to mention is the Movie Society. Like the World Cinema Society, they also tend to screen films in V/N/045, only on Tuesdays and Sundays instead of Fridays. I’ve personally never been, though poring over their screening list I can assure you that they’ve shown some great films over the past few months, such as In the Mood for Love and The Master. You can get a membership for £4 a year, which I assume gives you access to every screening. You can follow the Movie Society on Instagram @uoymoviesoc, or contact them at movie@yusu.org for more information.

Further to this there are also multiple cinemas in both the city centre and elsewhere. I tend to go to the Picturehouse, as they not only host great retrospectives on older films and directors (such as Akira Kurosawa and Wong Kar-wai last year), but also have a great share of new films in an easily accessible location. It’s worth looking into the student membership at Picturehouse if you are an avid cinema-goer, as it gives you two “free” tickets and a 40 percent discount on food and drink, all for only £20 a year; I only got this recently, and I was kicking myself for waiting so long.

The VUE is also great, as tickets tend to only be around £5 and come with recliner seats as standard, but it is further off the beaten path, and you will almost certainly have to either drive or get the bus (number 6) there. I haven’t been back since I braved a blizzard to go and see Licorice Pizza back in January, but I have had some great times there seeing films as diverse as Taxi Driver and Dune. There is also an Everyman just outside of the city centre and a Cineworld a little further away, though I’ve personally not been to either so I can’t exactly speak for them. I think they are worth checking out though, and it is best to shop-around rather than take my word for it.

As I briefly mentioned earlier, there is also an annual short film festival hosted in York called Aesthetica. It is running from the 1st to the 6th of November this year in-person, though there are also online events being hosted for the entirety of November. You can find out more at their website. It’s worth noting that York residents can get 50 percent off tickets here and selected discounts at other attractions by applying for a York Card online, though it is also worth noting that some attractions also accept a student card as proof of residency. Don’t take my word on it though, and make sure to check online.

I hope you have a great time settling in and I hope to see some of you around at the various societies and cinemas in and around campus. We also have a great Film and TV section here at Muse that accepts and publishes articles online and in print, so make sure to take advantage of that if you are interested in writing about Film (or TV). The Film and TV section also sometimes gives out free “press” tickets to screenings of a film in exchange for an article. I did this once to see Days of Heaven, and I can assure you that films always look better when they are free. You can follow us on Instagram @yorkfilmtv.