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First Class Film Nights a success

April 19, 2017: The Phoenix Centre’s inaugural First Class Film Nights achieved charitable success through the power of cinema.

From January until April, the Phoenix Centre’s First Class Film Nights invited local film buffs to enjoy four critically-acclaimed Toronto International Film Festival movies on the silver screen at Festival Hall.

Over the course of the four nights, the turnout more than doubled from 70 attendees at the opening night for the film ‘Genius’ to the 200-some attendees at the closing night for the Oscar-nominated ‘Lion’.

Tollis credits the quality of the films, word-of-mouth and key marketing initiatives for the popularity and event’s overall success in the end.

“The turnout, especially on the final night, over-exceeded our expectations – so we are extremely thrilled with that,” said Katie Tollis, Phoenix Centre marketing and communications coordinator. “I think the turnout improved with Lion because it had a lot of media press in general with regard to its Oscar nominations and the overall cinematography of the story. I also think that as the film nights progressed, more and more people were talking about it and of their positive experiences so that brought out more people in the end.”

With all nights combined, the event raised an impressive $5,500 that will be going towards The Phoenix Centre’s 24/7 Crisis Help Line as well as their Trauma Program.

“The money we raised over-exceeded our goal so we’re really pleased with that,” said Tollis. “Some of the funds will be going towards our 24/7 Crisis Line which provides kids and teens with accessible support where they can call the number to talk to a live person who will walk them through whatever they are experiencing. Other funds will go towards our Trauma Program which connects therapists with kids and teens who’ve experienced trauma and need that support.”

In the future, the Phoenix Centre has plans to make First Class Film Nights an annual fundraiser event in support of their programs.

“On the closing night, we had attendees fill out surveys and all of the feedback was very positive. People commented that they want to see us continue this because it’s something that’s new to the area and it’s in support of a great cause,” said Tollis. “I think people want to participate and support, but also be able to gain something that is of personal interest. Most people enjoy going to the movies, and knowing that you can do that but also support a good cause kind of ties in really well with peoples’ morale and wanting to participate in the community.”

She added that such initiatives also help to build a more active community as it encourages people to get out of their house and enjoy a sociable movie night among new and familiar faces, as opposed to spending a night in with Netflix.

“This type of event provides people with that whole experience of going to the movies which you don;’t get from staying at home and watching a movie off of Netflix. With these events, you get the fresh popcorn, we had Square Timber Brewing serving drinks and brownies from Two Tarts and a Truffle and people had the chance to socialize and run into familiar faces,” said Tollis. “Many people came out because they wanted that whole social experience while also supporting a great cause – so it was a really powerful for everyone and we’ll definitely see the event growing in the future.”