They’re not a film society, they just want to show movies. At least, that’s what Ariel Cohen ’03, the founder of the Ezra Stiles — ehhemm — non-Film Society said.

Any way you cut it, as of Feb. 1, Ezra Stiles College is opening its doors free of charge to the Yale community as the only residential college equipped with professional quality projection equipment and a standing Friday screening date.

This new non-film society may be direct competition with the Yale Film Society, a current favorite for on-campus movies. Amanda Schweitzer ’03, head of Yale Film Society, however, dismissed any potential for rivalry and questioned the new film club’s technical resources.

The competition?

“I think this is just one sign that it is a great time for film at Yale,” Schweitzer said. “I don’t think of Stiles as competition.”

Schweitzer added that the new theater will not detract from YFS patronage due to the technical superiority of the YFS equipment and venue.

While YFS projects 35 mm film, the kind used in professional cinemas, Cohen said the new Stiles theater will use digital projection. Cohen said this equipment is a technological advancement.

Schweitzer, however, questions this position, saying she was unsure of the picture quality that a DVD would provide on such a large screen.

“The YFS has a reputation for not only its cinema quality screenings, but sneak previews and special speakers,” Schweitzer said. “I don’t think that the addition of Stiles will threaten membership.”

She added that Whitney Humanities Center, the home of the YFS, provides a more appropriate venue for large-scale projection than the Stiles dining Hall.

A film movement?

It seems that the benefits of added interest in film outweigh the risk of the new Stiles movies stepping on the YFS’ toes.

In fact, the movies at Stiles may serve as a positive addition to the already popular Yale Medical School Film Society screenings, and of course those of the YFS.

Overall, Schweitzer said she was more excited than concerned about the new film club on campus.

“I think this is just one sign that it is a great time for film at Yale,” Schweitzer said. “I don’t think of Stiles as competition. Their Friday night screenings will be a nice complement to ours on Saturday night.”

The making of a cinema

Cohen’s inspiration came last spring when he was put in charge of Stiles’ audio/visual equipment. It came to his attention that Stiles had, at one time, been known for its movie showings. He said that he then learned of a sizable Parents’ Fund from Stiles Master Paul Fry.

“The fund exists as money for student projects that can be disposed at the master’s discretion,” Cohen said. “Altogether the Parents’ Fund provided about $15,000 to go toward a 15×20 screen and state-of-the-art digital projection equipment.”

After months of preparation, the theater began to take shape.

“I’m delighted that Ari has taken the initiative to start a new film society, because at one time Ezra Stiles had one of the two top college film societies at Yale,” Fry said. “It’s high time we revived the tradition.”

Cohen notes that more hands than just his went into making the project work. The Stiles’ Buttery crew became enlisted in the project to supply refreshments at Friday night showings.

Cohen also said that the new theater was able to elicit funding from Hull’s Art Supply, Yorkside Pizza and Tyco.

After extensive preparation, Stiles’ first screening will show the classic “Dr. No” Friday, Feb. 1 at 10:00 p.m.. A different DVD — either a new release or a classic — will air each subsequent Friday night.