If you’re a Cinema Studies major at U of T you know that it’s an often, nay, perpetual occurrence that, upon telling a non-U of T student (be it a family friend, a neighbor, or your aunt) that you happen to be a Cinema Studies major, their reaction is consistently, “What? A Cinema Studies department at U of T actually exists? I had no idea!” This then usually results in a long explanation justifying the department’s existence, which prompts from them a series of exceedingly skeptical questions surrounding your future career path.

Ultimately, practically nobody knows that the Cinema Studies department really exists. However, once you have entered the threshold of the Innis College building, suddenly, Cinema Studies is all around you. The building’s main lecture hall is a movie theatre, and on the second floor you’ll find smaller movie theatres accompanied by a library that archives film texts spanning back to the early 1900s.

Within Innis College are colorful posters that line the walls, advertising for “Free Friday Films” — an event created by a group of notoriously enthusiastic film geeks, more commonly known as (CINSSU) the Cinema Studies Student Union. As a group, they make it their duty to promote film culture surrounding the Cinema Studies department, and offer up special events to all those who are involved.

The brains behind this operation, CINSSU president Myrna Scully-Ashton, has been in charge of the group for the past year and is currently a fourth year Cinema Studies major. According to Scully-Ashton, CINSSU tries to provide unique opportunities for students interested in film culture in Toronto. “We wanted to have events that we’d never get a chance to have otherwise, so our plan this year was to create those kinds of opportunities for students on campus,” she explains.

Apart from their well-known Free Friday Films, the union offers sneak previews for wide-release movies, as well as academic seminars on film-related matters. Last November, CINSSU held an academic seminar on YouTube animal videos — a topic of much discussion and relevance — and throughout the year, they’ve held various “sneak-peeks”, like Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Beyond The Lights, and Lone Scherfig’s notorious portrayal of Oxford Universities’ schoolboys, The Riot Club.

“Usually studios want to tap into the student community here,” Scully-Ashton notes, explaining CINSSU’s ability to display these previews. “They want to get students to see their films because they want to attract the youth demographic, and they know that we’re willing to organize it for them.”

Previously, CINSSU has hosted guest appearances from Pat Mills (the director of Guidance), Sarah Polley (director of Take This Waltz), and U of T’s screenwriter-in-residence, Ingrid Veninger (director of The Animal Project, Modra).

Now that the school year is coming to a close, CINSSU plans to have one final Free Friday Film before calling it a day. The Free Friday Films, CINSSU’s most frequented event, are run by the group’s programmer, whose job it is to select a series of films that are critically acclaimed, yet not necessarily the most popular. Although oodles of fun, this may be the group’s most challenging position. “You want to walk a line,” explains Scully-Ashton, tentatively. “You don’t want to show the popular films that everyone’s already seen in theatres, but you don’t want to show anything too obscure either.”

In the end, she explains that it all really boils down to one main guideline: “You really just want to show something that people would want to see on a Friday night.”

CINSSU will be hosting its final free film of the year this Friday at 7:00 pm.