University of Portsmouth's History Blog

History Film Club – having a conversation about history and film

Our level 5 students have taken over running the UoP history film club, which launched in January.  Below Emily, Kieran, Harry and Ben tell you about their exciting plans. 

Hi there – hopefully if you’re reading this blog piece you are interested in our student-run History Film Club (and for good reason)! Four of us who are studying History have started a film club that is run through our Discord server (more on that later), for which we have so-far received positive feedback. We would like to extend our invitation to any student who is interested in attending – you don’t have to come to every screening, just when you’d like to. Let me explain how it works…

Through our server on Discord we play the films in rooms, and we also have a chatroom for any questions or discussions while the film is playing. We also have a short discussion afterwards to talk about the themes, technical aspects, and generally what we thought of the film. However, this is optional, and you’re free to leave once the film is complete if you would rather. Regarding movie choices, we also have a room for film recommendations where you are free to suggest any film you might want to watch, as well as comment on those other members have suggested. We’re always happy to take into consideration the input of film club members.

However, our Discord server is not only just for the film screenings. We also have rooms for listening to music, general chat, talks about history/a revision room, as well as one for sharing photos of our cute pets! We are always eager for more of those photos! Our goal is to create a community space where students can come together to not only to enjoy a variety of films but to interact with each other on a regular, social level. In order to do this successfully, we have also included a ‘Club Suggestion’ room where members can give us feedback for anything they want, and we will take each suggestion under advisement. The link for our Discord server will be at the bottom of this page.

In terms of films, we are limited in that we can only access those available on Box of Broadcasts (BoB) which are often a little bit older in terms of release date. Other streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, have a blocker in place so we can’t mass stream through Discord. We do have a list of films we, as admins, would be interested in showing, but as mentioned before – we are always open to film suggestions. This past week we screened Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), directed by Guillermo del Toro, of which there will likely be another blog post going into more depth.

Our first meeting went well, with 5 attendees – but we hope to have this number grow! We had a few people stay to chat afterwards regarding the film, with the general consensus being that the film was well made, with references to both history and mythology that intertwined enough to make the story interesting. One member even shared a link to a website that talks more in depth about certain archetypes the movie exemplifies in an article written by Jessica Davidson. While the conversation we had once the film ended was interesting, unfortunately some members were not able to stay on, and had to leave early. As I said before, the post-movie discussion is optional, but we always encourage extra participation from film club members.

In our upcoming screenings, we have a number of options us admins are enthusiastic about showing that are available on BoB. These are:

  • Downfall (2004)
  • Amadeus (1984)
  • Schindler’s List (1993)
  • Full Metal Jacket (1987)
  • Billy Elliot (2000)
  • The Elephant Man (1980)
  • Cleopatra (1963)
  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008)
  • 10 Rillington Place (1971)
  • Little Women (1994)
  • The Social Network (2010)
  • The Sound of Music (1965)
  • Chicago (2003)

We sent out an initial survey to gage people’s interest, and when the responses came back, it showed modern history (i.e. the 19th – 20th centuries) as the most popular time period to watch, with social issues (regarding race, gender, class etc.) as the most popular theme. Most of our film choices fall into these categories, and with the seeming popularities, it stands to reason that most of our initial screenings will abide by them, however, if you have any suggestions for films you would be interested in watching, please let us know! We will be more than happy to add them to our list.

We don’t necessarily expect your attendance at every screening, but we would love it if our numbers went up, so if you’re interested please feel free to join! So far our feedback has been positive, so I’m sure you won’t regret it. As we’re a student led club, we enjoy a laid back atmosphere which would be a nice break from your studies. You will also have your own input in the club as we’re open to suggestions as well as film recommendations for our screenings. You could also decide individually on your level of participation, e.g. you don’t have to stay for the optional discussion, you can stay and not speak, or you can be an active participant – it all depends on your comfort level. Also, despite being a History Film Club, with the films being historically based, we’re open to students from other subjects as well, so if you have any friends they can join too.

It would be great to see some more members attending, so please come join if you’re interested!

Discord link: https://discord.gg/C2QvdTpuxm

-The History Film Club Team – Emily Winslade, Harry Haines, Ben Hessey, and Kieran Walsh

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