Helen Ruther and Marcia Gorrie, Columbia Film Society
After screening nine films a year for fifty years, Columbia Film Society founders Marcia Gorrie and Helen Ruther have seen a lot of movies, from 1969’s The Damned to 2017 Best Foreign Film Oscar winner The Salesman. The women, along with Bob Keller, current Columbia Film Society president, and Tom Bryezinski, projectionist, make up the board, bringing an array of independent and foreign films to Howard County each year.
In the late 70s, the film society approached Howard Community College President Al Smith about a partnership. The conversation went well – for the last forty years the college has hosted the film society’s screening one weekend a month from September to May. Given its commitment to quality and affordability, the college has found a like-minded partner in the film society: it only charges subscribers $35 for 9 films a year.
As part of the partnership, the Columbia Film Society supports local arts programs and an endowment for HCC students. The Columbia Film Society founders were glad to learn that their endowment supported nine students last year, and they all enjoy the letters from students and recognition from the college. “It’s nice to be appreciated,” agree Gorrie and Ruther.
“It’s wonderful that HCC recognizes its role as a really strong community partner,” says Gorrie, as Ruther nods in agreement adding, “Howard Community College is the cultural center of Columbia.” The college not only hosts the film society; it’s also home to concerts, gallery shows and a myriad of arts courses for seniors. Members of the film society value all the college does to educate and nurture students, as well as serve as a community gathering space.