How we choose and source the films

For each season, CFS screens 15 current films (plus three older CFS Extra films). The selection is whittled down from a long list of films considered by our viewing panel.

The panel, currently made up of 18 volunteers, watches films throughout the year, selected from a list of releases published by the Film Distributors’ Association.

Panel members watch the films independently of one another and report back with their ratings (from 1 to 10) and their comments. Ratings are converted into a score – like our normal audience reaction scores – and films achieving 80 per cent or more are marked as having ‘potential’.

The panel will meet to decide on the final selection and films with high scores are likely to be especially popular with the CFS audience. But we also need variety: lighter films among the heavier ones; films from around the world; films in different genres, and so on. Achieving a varied, balanced programme involves hours of animated discussion.

At the end of every film, members are also invited to submit scores for how much they enjoyed the film – or otherwise. Films are scored A B C D or E.

The raw scores are then converted into an overall percentage. Each A gets 100, B gets 75, C gets 50, D gets 25 and E gets 0. The totals are then added together and divided by the total number of reaction slips. That gives us the final percentage we add to our overall score chart every year. We also value any comments you might wish to make on the reaction slip.

• Would you like to be involved in choosing films for CFS? We are always keen to find new members for the viewing panel. No qualifications are required except a love of films – and time to watch lots of them.
Contact us on the usual email:

In order to show films, the society has to acquire a licence each time from the film’s distributors. There are conditions: they are only to be shown to a membership society, people are not allowed to pay on the door (with the exception of members’ guests) and we are not allowed to advertise the screenings. Nor are we allowed to lend the discs to members who have missed the screening. The actual DVD/Blu-Ray disc is the same as those you might buy in the shops or rent from Cinema Paradiso. We usually buy a copy rather than using one sent by the distributors because it is more likely to play properly. When we try to contact the distributor of a given film, there are a number of sources of information.

  • The Filmbank website has an on-line search and is one of the top suppliers to the Cheltenham Film Society.
  • The British Film Institute website has an on-line search and is also one of our top suppliers.
  • The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has a good search facility that can give details of the UK distributor.
  • The Independent Cinema Office (ICO) can help to answer questions if the above do not give details.
  • Cinema For All, formerly the British Federation of Film Societies, can also be useful in identifying distributors.

And here are some of the distributors: