How To Host a Movie Night

Many chapters of Drinking Liberally have found it fun and useful to host special screening events. There are many good political films out there, and often a movie night will draw out a different crowd than your regular happy hour. Special events also give you opportunities for special promotion and for engaging new partners.

If you do decide to host a screening, here are some notes from chapters that have done this before.

Finding a venue
Find something physically suitable and that has AV equipment – Community Centers, Public Libraries. Possibly a University venue if you have a University relationship. Possibly your own Drinking Liberally location if that is workable.

Finding a film
Remember that you will have to consider what a non-theatrical screening fee for the film will be, and if you can show it without losing your shirt. Sometimes films will be available for a free screening, some of them will be fairly expensive. Remember that if you are publicly advertising a film you will need to have a nontheatrical screening license for the film unless the film maker or distributor is willing to let you exhibit it for free.

Remember you can often negotiate screening fees. If you have a small venue or are not charging admission or have special circumstances, don't be afraid to ask. We strongly encourage free events, or a suggested donation / "pass the hat," as this will make the event more inviting.


Remember to leave time for a discussion after the film, or possibly a speaker.

If you can manage it, you might think about having BYOB or going out to a local bar afterward.

Topics of films – health care, topics of local interest – films about the ACA, new Robert Reich film, classic films that may resonate with people on a current topic, etc.

Make sure everything works before the screening – audio, video, etc. It's really embarrassing to have your audience waiting around while you iron out the details.

Resources for films, etc.
Tugg – an interesting system for bringing films you want to see to your local theater -
Brave New Theaters – films that you can show for free or very low cost, and a system to promote them. Features films by Robert Greenwald, but there are plenty of others -
Bullfrog Films – distributor of environmental films
Screening HQ – nice new resource to plan screenings of films for change, with online streaming for your showing