Six members of Willoughby Christian Reformed Church are part of “Shot in the Dark,” a not-for-profit organization that brings independent films to a movie theatre in Langley, British Columbia. The group is celebrating the showing of its 200th film in April.
Jenny and Dennis deGroot have been involved with the organization from its start in 1999. Jenny deGroot explained that as people of faith, they felt a commitment to promoting the arts. “This is ministry in a broader sense, [providing] good films as alternatives to what most people watch,” she said.
At the beginning of each season, the group reviews a list of independent films made available through the Toronto International Film Festival Group. In most cases, they only have a catalogue of descriptions and movie trailers to guide their choices, hence the name “Shot in the Dark.”
“In any given season we look for a balance and take in many considerations . . . Canadian, foreign language, directors, actors, producers, documentaries, award-winners from Sundance or Cannes film festivals. We also know our audience well and shape a season accordingly,” said deGroot.
Attendance at each showing averages 125 people, but they have had as many as 250. “Groups like ours are committed to supporting indie films and giving audiences an opportunity to see films of this caliber without having to go into the bigger centers like Vancouver . . . an hour drive for most,” deGroot explained.
Having access to these films in her neighborhood was a big reason why LuAnn Westerhuis began attending the screenings 12 years ago. Westerhuis recently brought the tradition of film discussion groups from her previous church, Fleetwood CRC in Surrey, British Columbia, to her new church Mundy Park CRC in nearby Coquitlam. “These movies are not your typical Hollywood fare, but human stories with complex characters, often made on a low budget. They always leave you with something to think about,” she said.