Since the 1970s, the CWRU Film Society has operated on campus with the mission of promoting film as an art form.

In recognition of their presumptive 50th anniversary this year, members of the society have arranged a gallery of movie posters from across the years to display in Strosacker Auditorium, where the organization screens its showings. 

Supported by several campus resources, the student-driven effort will feature more than 100 posters dating back to the 1970s, each depicting films of artistic and cultural importance that they’ve screened over the years. All but one of the posters (a New Line Cinema poster for the film Breathing Together), was designed to advertise the organization’s original film screenings.

Specifically, the collection includes posters documenting the complete schedule of fall and spring showings from 1971 to 1989, special weekend and summer series, Sunday matinee showings, and the Science Fiction Marathon, a tradition that has endured for 46 years.

The idea for the collection began more than a year ago with a gift from Kristin Whitbeck (MNO ’19), who donated about 40 posters her father and film enthusiast Rick Whitbeck (GRS’74, American Studies; MGT ’85) collected over the years before his death. Staff member and projectionist Charley Knox (CIT ’74, astronomy; GRS ’78, physics) and longtime patron Eric R. Rosen contributed an additional 20-30 posters from their personal collections, and about 30 more were found in on-campus storage closets. 

“Once we had a large number of posters in hand it became clear that this collection was really something special and the second floor lounge in Strosacker was the right place to showcase it,” said Kristina Collins, a longtime CWRU Film Society member and PhD student in electrical engineering.

The Putnam Collection, which oversees funds from the Putnam family for public art on the Case Western Reserve campus, had eyed the spot for a future project. Though the new gallery will not be an official part of the collection, Kathy Barrie, director of The Putnam Collection, thought it was the perfect fit when the CWRU Film Society presented the idea.

“We are so delighted that this space, adjacent to the projectionist’s area and the theater, will be filled with this important part of CWRU and film history,” she said.

The CWRU Film Society received support from University Media Board, the Strosacker Family Foundation, University Archives and The Putnam Collection. The students worked with Edith Antl at Art Etc. on Murray Hill Road to frame the pieces and Kevin Barrie to hang them. The project remains in progress due to a shortage in the aluminum used for the mouldings.

Arranged mostly in chronological order, the posters offer a glimpse at the evolution of their designs, including the change from a standard format, to one- and two-color prints designed by local advertising agencies to the early days of student-designed posters from the 1990s. 

Collins noted that there were some particularly unique findings, including a storyboard depicting a film reel morphing into a Film Society logo, a cover from the short-lived Mise en Scène student magazine, and Science Fiction Marathon screenprints produced by Leonard “KRASH” Krashoc, who has created all of the marathon’s posters.

“So many of the posters are indeed works of art—of graphic design—that reflects the style of their respective films,” Barrie said.

The new gallery is permanently on display in Strosacker Auditorium.