History lives on in Tallahassee Film Society, 20 years after inception

Published: May. 16, 2019 at 12:02 AM EDT
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By: Katie Kaplan | WCTV Eyewitness News

May 16, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – The Tallahassee Film Society is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month with free showings.

It is housed in the old Amtrak Station now known as the All Saints Cinema. The building has been in use for more than 100 years and at one time transported travelers to far off places. Now, it is doing something similar, but in a different kind of way.

"The building was built as a freight warehouse before the Civil War," John Fraser said.

Fraser is the president of the non-profit, which, he said, shows about 100 titles per year.

Inside the theater are hints to its storied past. Photos from some of its earliest days line the walls. Inside the projector room, original Amtrak boarding passes still sit in their designated cubbies.

"It's charming," said member Peggy Fitch. "I really enjoy it."

Even the 70 seats inside have a bit of history. Fraser said they were salvaged from the Ruby Diamond Concert Hall at Florida State University.

The fascinating details of the building are almost as colorful as the people it houses during viewings.

"It's an art house. It's a gang of art family," said Nashville songwriter Tim Easton. "My type of people."

Easton said he was looking for something to do while he passed through Tallahassee. He described the group attending a screening on Wednesday as "like-minded nerds."

"People that love a good story," he said. "And cinematography."

Fraser said 20 years after its founding, TFS is 600 members strong. It shows independent films every weekend with something for everyone.

"They have a good selection," added Fitch.

Fraser said that once in a while, on the old rails behind the cinema, history makes it way back.

"The best part is when the freight trains come by," he said. "They blow their horns across Old Railroad Avenue. The whole building vibrates. Mortar dust falls from the ceiling. Everybody smiles. We turn the volume up and keep going."

The film society charges dues of $25 a year, which Fraser said helps to keep the cinema operating. In June, it will be hosting an animation festival.