Mountain Shadow Film Society

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who came up with Mountain Shadow, When and Why?

A: In June, 2013, John and Germaine Bennison started brainstorming with some friends how best to bring back first-run foreign and independent films to our area, following the departure of Ciné-Arts at that time, with the demolition of the Dome theater in Pleasant Hill. The opportunity to see great foreign and independent films in our area was greatly diminished. Mountain Shadow changed that, and for the better!

Q: Why Non-profit?

A: In 2014, Mountain Shadow became an official California 501.c.3 educational non-profit organization. Mountain Shadow's goal was to bring back quality films otherwise unavailable in our area, at the lowest possible cost, and with additional features you simply can't get going to any commercial theater. This includes award-winning short films along with our feature films, periodic live presentations by the filmmakers themselves, and opportunities to engage other film enthusiasts in discussion groups, and additional special events (e.g. an Annual Oscar Party, "Encore Evenings," etc.).

Q: Why a membership organization, with annual dues paid upfront?

A: Mountain Shadow began in January, 2014, as a non-profit start-up, with no capital funds to underwrite this venture. Annual dues paid in advance guarantee members a full year of monthly screenings, without having to rely on fluctuating and unpredictable ticket sales. The $120 annual fee per member was determined after calculating the projected annual budget expenses for a full program year. There is also have a maximum number of members we can accept, due to our venue's capacity and preferable size for a good viewing experience.

Q: Can I still attend Mountain Shadow screenings if I'm not a member?

A:  There is opportunity to attend our shows with a $12 general admission ticket, but only as limited space permits and on a first-come basis at each show.  We limit seating to approximately 120 attendees for our shows, due to the venue capacity, and in order to assure a good viewing experience. As membership increases, the number of seats available for general admission diminish. 

Q: Why become a Mountain Shadow member?

A: Membership has its privileges!  In addition to a lower ticket price per show (when the membership fee is annualized), members are guaranteed a space for one of our screenings, and at a reduced price. Members can reserve space for guests in advance, depending on availability (a $12 general admission fee still applies for guests). Members have access to the growing Library of the films we screen, if they miss a show or just want to see a film again.  There are also special events for members.

Q: Why do we use the WC Library's Oak View Room for the venue instead of a movie theater?

A: Despite the capacity limitations of the Oak View Room, after researching all the other venues (commercial movie complexes, Lesher Regional Center, other city-run facilities, schools, etc.) the Oak View Room’s rental rate for non-profit organizations -- along with its central location, ample nearby parking and accessibility -- was determined to be by far the most economically feasible and preferable venue. The library location allows us to keep our membership dues remarkably low; while at the same time, Mountain Shadow adds to the excitement of a growing and vibrant downtown. In addition, upgrades to the Oak View room have enhanced the venue. In 2017 a professional projector was installed, and a state-of-the-art hearing assist “loop” system is being added in early-2019.

Q: When are the monthly screenings shown?

A: Mountain Shadow has set the monthly show dates for each of the Series.  See the Member Application tab for the Calendar. and additional information. 

Q: What if a member is unable to attend a particular month’s screening? Can someone else attend in place of the member?

A: Yes! The annual membership reserves one seat for all twelve screenings for the year. There is a Member Sign-in Roster at each event, and your guest can simply sign-in in your place.

Q: What films are shown, and how are the films selected?

A: Our selections come from a variety of foreign, independent narrative and documentary films. Our objective is always to secure new releases that are otherwise unavailable in commercial theaters in our immediate geographical area.  Increasingly, we are acquiring films that have no U.S distribution, except the festival circuit. On occasion, we're able to have the filmmaker present their film in person, and engage our audiences with Q&A.  Mountain Shadow has developed a set of guidelines to use in selecting the films we screen; based on extensive member feedback; as well as the practical availability through distributors for public performance in a non-theatrical, library site venue. Results of our most current member preference Survey is available upon request. 

Q: How is Mountain Shadow organized, led, and its finances managed?

A: Along with a director, numerous member volunteers, contributing their time and effort, enable Mountain Shadow to run smoothly and effectively. As a California 501.c.3 organization, Mountain Shadow functions with the required Board of Directors, which manages the organization and oversees finances. There are several volunteer positions and opportunities on the Membership Application form, and member participation is encouraged. 

Q: Can I pay for a general admission ticket or my membership fee by credit card?

A: Yes! However, there is a modest convenience fee charged by the vendor which we pass on to the purchaser..

Q: What’s the easiest way to get more information or an answer to another question?

A: For more information, explore the rest of our site, then simply call or email:

John Bennison, Director: 925.787.6965