I Heart Film: Joan and Stan Poss, Filmworks members
Before your respective retirements, what did you do for a living?
Joan: I worked as a therapist with crisis outpatients with Fresno County for 11 years. I went back to graduate school when I was 47 and it was best thing I ever did. I’m retired, but I’m a social work field instructor. I’ve been doing that for 15 years with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) in Fresno.
Stan: I was an English professor at Fresno State starting way, way back; just at the point at which the department was beginning to be a department in the 1950s.
Are you both natives of Fresno?
Stan: No, we came here because of the job. Joan grew up in Boston and I grew up in Southern California.
Given you were involved with the founding of Fresno Filmworks, how did your involvement come about?
Stan: A good friend of ours is a civil liberties attorney named Catherine Campbell. Catherine and her pal Dixie Salazar [both of whom were among the 10 founding Filmworks board members with Stan] thought, “We’re not getting the movies in Fresno that we want. Let’s see what we can do about it.”
The two women put their heads together and they talked to other people; a lot of the college people. Catherine, for example, knew me because she was one of my former students; a brilliant student. And so, many of us including yours truly got together at Lillian Faderman’s house and talked about an organization to bring the movies to Fresno.
Part of our original mission statement was to offer something that moviegoers did not have at the multiplexes. Our very first showing was at the Fresno Art Museum (FAM). First was the Swedish film “Together,” then the African film “Faat Kiné.” We then got to the Tower Theater early on; just a few films to start at FAM.
What have been the key reasons that Fresno Filmworks has continued to grow?
Stan: The board is so energetic and active at producing ideas for community outreach; coming up with programs to get the high schools and Fresno State students in.
It’s great that Fresno Filmworks has kept going all these years. How does it happen?
Stan: For those of us that have been in it a long time, the energy starts to go, it just does. It’s wonderful to have newbies aiding and abetting the rest of the board members. They’re all wonderful people. I still enjoy tending bar.
Joan: Many who have resigned from the board still come and volunteer. They love films.
How have things changed at Filmworks?
Joan: The board used to review hundreds of submissions by amateurs for the Fresno Film Festival. That was a lot of work.
Stan: We would get this huge in-flood of contributions. They came from all over the place, including Russia. The board used to have a ton of stuff from which to make selections. We don’t do that now. It was huge. Now we get the winners from other festivals.
What are some of your favorite Filmworks movies?
Joan: I think of a short film about a flowerpot that fell in love with a light bulb. It was so delightful, but I can’t remember the name. I remember in those early days I was more taken by the shorts than I am now.
Stan: Jeanne Moreau. Any guy that isn’t crazy loves Jeanne Moreau. One of her famous films was “Jules and Jim.” In 2006, Filmworks showed one of her films called “Elevator to the Gallows,” directed by Louis Malle. That grabbed me.
What are some of your favorite movies that you’ve seen recently?
Stan: “The Big Sick.”
Joan: It was very good and it stayed in the theaters here!
Stan: “Ingrid Goes West.”
Joan: That’s really a marvelous film. I’m a great admirer of that film.
Thank you for the recommendations!
Joan: We love movies. To go to the movies and to forget yourself and just be in whatever is happening on the screen is such a wonderful experience.
Our “I Heart Film” series spotlights our generous community donors. Contact our development director, Jefferson Beavers, for information on becoming a sponsor or member.