Like most of us in the expat world I have joined, for a variety of reasons, many a club over the years – usually when the summer holidays come to a sad end, life gets back on a normal schedule and the kids are no longer underfoot. Women’s clubs, expat clubs, professional clubs, book clubs – I’ve joined them all. While I’ve enjoyed most of my clubbing experiences I’ve been looking around for a club that offers something a little different as we prepare to leave the all too short Swedish summer behind.Don’t get me wrong; joining a club of any stripe can be incredibly rewarding and lead to not only great friendships with people who share similar interests, clubs can also foster a wonderful sense of community, whether personally or professionally, and I recommend them highly to anyone, expat or not.
But this year, as I said, I have been looking for something different, something that would speak to me culturally and intellectually, while still keeping me entertained. You might be thinking I should just stick with the book clubs, but as much as I enjoy them, they often revolve around food, wine and gossip, with discussion of the selected book very much taking a back seat. I love a good, wine-fuelled chinwag as much as the next person but clubs are, for me, a chance to explore an area I’m interested in and meet with people who share that interest.
I asked friends if they knew of anything different and poked around the Internet, hoping to happen upon the perfect club idea. I’m a big fan of documentary films and eventually someone suggested I join a documentary film club. Great idea!
The problem was that I couldn’t find any doc clubs in my area, and while I’m a great joiner I’ve never actually started a club myself – and the idea of doing so was rather daunting. I hemmed and hawed for a few days and then finally bit the bullet and reached out to my Facebook group of mums in Sweden.
I’m not terribly active on this particular Facebook group (ok, let’s be honest: I joined and then pretty much carried on with my life) but went there and asked if anyone would be interested in a documentary film club. The response was astounding. Within 24 hours several dozen people said they loved the idea and wanted to know more. Who knew there were so many doc fans hidden away in northern Europe?
Lucky for me the FB group is populated by some pretty savvy ladies, one of whom pointed me towards something called Influence Film Forum. I popped over and discovered a fantastic site that exists solely to promote documentary film clubs around the world. It was meant to be.
IFForum features tons of films, covering everything from serious issues to light biographical fare. Even better, the site has loads of extra material related to the films, including discussion guides for clubs, links to articles, video and other information about the film. Great stuff and perfect for this lady, who has absolutely no idea how to form a club, documentary or otherwise.
Lucky for me (again) the FB ladies were full of ideas and separate FB group was swiftly set up, with membership requests flooding in. We now have nearly 20 members and are planning our first gathering for September.
I’m intrigued by the idea of women of various ages who come from many different cultures and backgrounds getting together to discuss global warming or a somewhat debauched Hollywood producer. I think the sheer diversity of the group will stimulate some very spirited discussion, and I look forward to hearing ideas and points of view that I may not have considered before.
Now that the club is set up we face another hurdle: which film to watch first? Looking through the films featured on IFForum, I can see that we’re going to be spoilt for choice. But as the founder of this burgeoning little club I may just pull rank and choose something that speaks to me. Good Hair, anyone?
Judi Lembke is a writer and editor based in Europe. Her work spans the spectrum, from light humour to corporate film and pretty much everything in between. Most of her adult life has been spent as an expat, with stints in London, Sydney and, currently. Stockholm, Sweden. She finds expat life stimulating, challenging and always very interesting. Judi blogs at Judi Lembke Ink.