Theresa Hawkins and Brian Dennehy2The Atlantic City Free Public Library welcomed a very special guest – award-winning actor Brian Dennehy – to the Main Library for its Film Society program held Sept. 29.
Dennehy spoke to the group after it watched a movie that he starred in, “The Belly of an Architect,” earlier in the day. Dennehy, who won Best Actor at the Chicago Film Festival for that performance, discussed his career and answered questions from the Film Society members.
(Click here to see clips from this program).
“We’re grateful that he took the time out of his busy schedule to visit the Atlantic City Library,” Library Director Robert Rynkiewicz said. “It was a wonderful opportunity for our Film Society members to gain insight about the industry from such an accomplished actor.”
Library Film Society coordinator Theresa Hawkins arranged Dennehy’s visit. She met Dennehy while attending Hunter College (NY), where she earned a bachelor's degree in Film Production.
“Brian had wanted to meet the members ever since he spoke with them via phone during our screening and discussion of his film ‘First Blood’ two years ago,” Hawkins said.
The Film Society has met other industry experts in recent years: entertainment publicist Gary Springer, head of New York City-based Springer Associates PR; Ed McGinty, an actor and historical consultant for HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and Diane Raver, founder of the Garden State Film Festival.
Adult Atlantic City Library members (18 years of age and older) in good standing are invited to join the Film Society. The Film Society meets twice every month: first to watch a movie and discuss it, and a second time to discuss a particular aspect related to the film that it just viewed.

Brian Dennehy talking to Atlantic City Library Film Society
Theresa Hawkins and Brian Dennehy6 Theresa Hawkins and Brian Dennehy9
Brian Dennehy Film Society members4
Brian Dennehy with Film Society members2 Theresa Hawkins Brian Dennehy and Robert Rynkiewicz2

Atlantic City film society links local movie lovers together

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Movie mission Theresa Hawkins, coordinator of the Atlantic City Free Public Library Film Society, stands by the rack of films recommended by the society on display at the library, Monday August 10 2015. The Atlantic City Free Public Library Film Society celebrates its 10th anniversary next year. (The Press of Atlantic City / Ben Fogletto)

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Posted: Friday, August 21, 2015 7:00 am


Not every city the size of Atlantic City has an active film society. But then, not every city has Theresa Hawkins.

It was nine years ago that Hawkins, who works at the Atlantic City Free Public Library, noticed that the most popular libray items with the public seemed to be DVD rentals.

Hawkins saw a void. And, because she has a degree in film production from Hunter College in New York, she had the skills to fill it. The library had no continuing programs for adults, so Hawkins started the Atlantic City Free Public Library's Film Society. At the time, it was believed to be the first film society in this state run by a library.

Since then, Hawkins has shown more than 100 movies. The films are shown on Saturday afternoons and then discussed in a Monday-evening classroom session. But she's just scratched the surface.

"There are so many films to show, so many classes to teach, so many subjects to teach things about. I have a list of future topics that runs two pages long," Hawkins said.

Hawkins, whose title is film society coordinator, has shown movies and taught classes dealing with such subjects as neorealist cinema, Soviet cinema, film noir, film criticism, film remakes, French New Wave, film language and structure, directors Ernst Lubitsch and Stanley Kubrick, film editing, costume design, storyboards, voice-over narration and theme, story and plot.

"I knew it would be a success before I even started it," Hawkins said. "We had so much programming at the time for all ages, except for your regular average adult."

Hawkins usually picks films that are not in the library's collection. She orders a new copy, and after it is screened, the DVD joins the film society's rack of movies on the library's first floor and receives a sticker that indicates it was a film society selection.

The library's website - - lists the movies screened and the lessons taught. There also is a separate list of books and DVDs about specific actors, films and filmmakers studied by the society.

Like other members of film society, Hawkins is still learning. Sometimes, when she's researching by rewatching a film she thought highly of, she'll find that she lowers her assessment of it and realizes she can't teach anything from it.

The film society works because Hawkins takes time beyond her official library work hours to watch and research films. But she gives the credit to the society's members.

"I really have to commend the members because without them coming every month, there would be no reason to have the program. The core members are not just the ones that have been with me since day one, but also the ones that have been loyally coming month after month after month and really, truly enjoy it," Hawkins said. "I'm humbled and flattered by the words they say to me. I get thank you cards. Just hearing someone say, 'I look at movies differently now because of coming to this program,' that's just a wonderful feeling.'"

City resident Doug Collins, 72, has been a film society member from the beginning. Collins said he has already seen 80 percent of the movies shown, but he keeps coming back because he will learn something new about a film.

"I have a son who lives in Rochester, N.Y., who would be in seventh heaven if there was a film society in Rochester. He is awed by the fact that we have it," Collins said.

"It's a blessing. I think of Theresa as a movie angel because she created this in Atlantic City. It's not just that we have casinos. We now have the film society. It's like an oasis in America that we have a film society. There are not many places places in America that have it."

In the beginning, film society membership was sporadic because people didn't understand that it was a commitment, Hawkins said. The regulars now number around 30 people. From this month until the end of this year, a recruitment drive will be held to bring new blood to the society, Hawkins said.

"People always say something during the discussion that I have never thought of before. I tell them I learn as much from them as they learn from me. It sounds cliche, but it's the God's honest truth because everybody is seeing things from their own perspective, coming with their own history, and they will say something about a film, and you will stop and think, 'Oh yeah, that's actually a good point,'" said Hawkins.

The next film that will be shown is "Wings" from 1927 in the first part of a two-part discussion of Academy Award movies.

Contact: 609-272-7202

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A film society flourishes in Atlantic City

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 Join the Film Society | Films Screened | Classes Taught | Related Items At The Library | Past Special Events & Press Coverage

The following is a list of classes taught at the ACFPL Film Society.

  • Meet & Greet
  • History Of Film: 1890's - 1940's
  • History Of Film: 1950's - Present
  • Filmmaking Job Responsibilities
  • How Films Are Made
  • Film Language & Structure
  • Classic Hollywood Cinema
  • Director Ernst Lubitsch
  • Film Set Jargon
  • Special Effects Basics
  • Film Sequels
  • Neorealist Cinema
  • Hollywood Musicals
  • Director Billy Wilder
  • Anti-War Films
  • Cinema's Influence On Society
  • Screenplay: Format
  • Screenplay: Structure
  • Screenplay: Story Analysis
  • Screenplay: Page-By-Page Analysis
  • Film Restoration
  • Shot-By-Shot Analysis
  • Production Design
  • Actor Spencer Tracy
  • Visual Style: Static
  • Visual Style: Movement
  • Film Noir
  • Actor Gene Kelly
  • DVD Transfers
  • Documentary Films
  • Actor Audie Murphy
  • The Academy Awards
  • Academy Award Omissions
  • Director Sergio Leone
  • Producer Discussion with Gary W. Goldstein
  • Movie Buff Game Night with Justin Purvis
  • Silent Films
  • Actress Audrey Hepburn
  • Director William Wellman
  • Shakespeare On Film
  • Director Alfred Hitchcock
  • Violence In Cinema
  • An Afternoon with Brian Dennehy
  • Native Americans In Cinema
  • Video Essays with Jacob T. Swinney
  • Actor Alan Ladd

  • Actor Steve McQueen
  • Romantic Comedies
  • Film Editing
  • Director John Ford
  • Film Theme Songs
  • Actor William Powell
  • Hollywood Blacklist
  • Actor Bruce Lee
  • Costume Design
  • Film Stardom
  • Sports Films
  • Biopics
  • Film Research with Edward McGinty
  • Page-To-Screen: Fiction
  • Blockbuster Films
  • Posthumous Performances
  • Film Dialogue
  • Actor Cary Grant
  • Film Criticism
  • Martial Arts Films
  • Film Publicity with Gary Springer
  • National Film Registry
  • Plot Twists
  • Actor Jack Lemmon
  • Page-To-Screen: Comics
  • Soviet Cinema
  • Disaster Films
  • Director Sidney Lumet
  • Page-To-Screen: Stage Play
  • Storyboards
  • Page-To-Screen: Print Articles
  • Director Preston Sturges
  • Actor Gary Cooper
  • Movie Spoofs
  • Movie Satires
  • Concert Films
  • Actor Leslie Howard
  • Auteur Theory
  • Actor James Dean
  • Cult Films
  • Director George A. Romero
  • World War I in Cinema
  • Sound Design
  • Actor Frank Sinatra
  • Homosexuality In Cinema
  • Film Monologues & Speeches
  • Director Ingmar Bergman

  • Page-To-Screen: Short Story
  • Film Scores
  • Actor William Holden
  • Directors' Cuts
  • Film Iconography
  • Phenomenon Of "Gone With The Wind"
  • French New Wave
  • Tearjerkers
  • Gangster Films
  • James Bond Films
  • First Features
  • Slasher Films
  • Voice-Over Narration
  • Director Charles Chaplin
  • Film Remakes
  • Chase Scenes
  • Theme, Story & Plot
  • Director Stanley Kubrick
  • Actor Gregory Peck
  • Character Entrances
  • Opening Scenes
  • Closing Scenes
  • Film Soundtrack Albums
  • Death Scenes
  • Title Sequences
  • End Credits & After Credits
  • Garden State Film Festival
  • Breakthrough Performances
  • Director Howard Hawks
  • Film Franchises
  • Director Frank Capra
  • Courtroom Dramas
  • 1980's Action Films
  • Actor Discussion with Brian Dennehy
  • Director George Stevens
  • Actor Robert Walker
  • Non-linear Narrative Films
  • Actor Paul Newman
  • Guilty Pleasure Films
  • Actress Katharine Hepburn
  • Western Films
  • Director Leo McCarey
  • Mise En Scene
  • Film Montage
  • Director John Huston
  • Documentary Discussion with Craig Dudnick
  • Actor Henry Fonda

The Atlantic City Film Society celebrates its seventh anniversary

The Film Society celebrated its 7th anniversary on July 15, 2013. The Press of Atlantic City covered the event and wrote an article<

"Since 2006, the group has met one Saturday afternoon a month to view and discuss a film, reconvening the following Monday for a classroom lesson on the film taught by group coordinator and Senior Library Assistant Theresa Hawkins, who founded the Film Society. The group will watch "Monsieur Verdoux," a lesser-known Charlie Chaplin film, at 1 p.m. Aug. 10 and will discuss it at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 12.
The Film Society celebrated its seventh anniversary with a party July 15, with about 15 members of the group turning out for snacks, trivia and the chance to reminisce about the films they've watched together over the years. Many of those attending were, like Johnson, founding members, and they said one thing has kept them coming back, month after month - Hawkinpress article screenshot


Click here to read the full story about the event.