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SLFS: Our Impact Through Independent Film

a busy crowd lining up on the street outside the Tower Theater

We have all seen films that have changed us, whether by shifting our perspective or making us think about their themes and stories for days on end. But an important question remains; can film really make a positive difference in the world? As a non-profit that seeks to amplify diversity and support social progress in our community through film, Salt Lake Film Society would definitely say “yes” to that question. However, the reality is a bit more nuanced; films do not vote or pay taxes, nor do they determine policy, constitutional rights, or election results. But crucially, they have the power and potential to inspire those who do. 

“The purpose of civilization and growth is to be able to reach out and empathize a little bit with other people… the movies are like a machine that generates empathy. They let you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears.”

Roger Ebert

This quote from the famed movie critic Roger Ebert defines our philosophy at SLFS, and the impact of cinema that we believe in. Independent films that exhibit unique stories and amplify diverse voices help cultivate a more sympathetic community, full of people aware of the issues and inequalities in our society, and as curious as they are impassioned to do something about it. A group of inspired people can change the world, and that’s why our independent theaters strive to play independent films that educate, advocate, and inspire people everyday.

Independent Film – A Machine of Empathy and Accessibility

How exactly does film help though? What makes film a potential tool for social good? Well firstly, movies are accessible. The variability of human experiences that the film medium can present and represent makes it a highly approachable form of art for all types of people from all types of backgrounds. Watching a film on the big screen is also easier than ever, as most theaters offer a wide selection of showtimes, all day, everyday, at fairly affordable rates. There seems to be a visual story out there for just about everyone; almost every person has a favorite film, and rarely are they the same.

director guy nattiv doing a q and a with SLFS CEO tori baker

Oscar-winning director Guy Nattiv, at a Q&A with SLFS CEO, Tori Baker

But more importantly, the diversity of visual stories that film can tell leads to a nearly unavoidable exchange of ideas, culture, and human experiences. Film pares down these large, intricate concepts or issues into approachable encounters with your fellow human beings, giving audience members an emotional glimpse into the lives, aspirations, and suffering of other people. Every film is a machine capable of producing this empathetic epiphany that Ebert describes, and this effect is only intensified when we share a film in a theater with others. A thoughtful film can make us feel closer and more connected to the people in our society, and also more aware of the struggles and prejudices they may face.

Furthermore, this type of film can foster a vital introspection and advocacy regarding the disadvantages that many marginalized people experience and suffer from. Independent films are some of the most common contributors of diverse and galvanizing stories. The proper telling of an underrepresented story on the big screen can play a pivotal part in the educational fight against bigotry and systemic oppression; movies are made by people, for people, and the more we can expose everyone to the lives, decisions, and experiences of others, the more progress we can make towards constructing an aware and empathetic society.

Salt Lake Film Society – Independent Theaters

street-level photo of front of Broadway Centre Cinemas

The front of Broadway Centre Cinemas, showcasing our marquee for February 2021

At Salt Lake Film Society, our mission revolves around educating, advocating, and informing both about, and through cinema, especially independent film. Independent films consistently emphasize giving their audience this glimpse into the lives of others, and our goal is to show as many of these diverse and thought-provoking movies as possible. 

Through independent film and the independent theaters we operate, we help cultivate a local community filled with compassionate and curious people, who are willing to learn and listen and ultimately do something about the problems they are made aware of. There’s no better place in Salt Lake City to experience consistent access to independent film than Broadway Center Cinemas or the Tower Theater. Take a step towards understanding the life of another, and come see a movie that might just inspire you.

To see a list of our upcoming films and events, click here.
To join our Red Carpet Club, or to learn more about RCC levels, discounts, and benefits, click here.

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