Photo by Zuzana Ľudviková

Josué Almansa runs a film club: ‘I want to keep people thinking’

Researcher Josué Almansa spends his days handling huge data sets. But one Friday night a month, he leaves his statistics behind to watch and debate movies at the film club he started.

Avatar photo

Door Lotta Groenendaal

16 October om 16:27 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 16 October 2023
om 16:27 uur.
Avatar photo

By Lotta Groenendaal

October 16 at 16:27 PM.
Last modified on October 16, 2023
at 16:27 PM.
Avatar photo

Lotta Groenendaal

‘I’m not under the illusion that I’m going to change the world just by running a film club’, he says. But it makes him happy to hear people talk about films, discuss them, engage with them and with each other, weeks after the night he screened them. 

Films are more than just entertainment for biostatistics researcher Josué Almansa. They are a way for people to connect on a level beyond superficial dialogue. ‘Everybody has their own perception of reality, and life is not as black and white as movies often portray’, he says. ‘But through these exaggerated emotions, we see more of people’s pain and that invites empathy.’

And so Almansa invites people – anyone really – to come to his club ‘Let’s movie it’ at the Studentenkoepel Levensbeschouwelijke Organisaties (SKLO) at the Kraneweg. Up to thirty people –  a mix of students, researchers and friends – have gathered there at least once a month for five years now. ‘I just like to see people united, plus it is always fun to watch movies together’, he says. 

Not empty entertainment

His own love for cinema was ignited by his philosophy teacher in his home country of Spain. He encouraged Almansa to see films as more than empty entertainment; as a medium for understanding other people’s emotions and struggles. 

And when he saw Courage Under Fire, the 1996 film with Denzel Washington and Meg Ryan, he was sold. ‘The film shows how difficult it is to maintain a lie’, he says. ‘It taught me about taking ownership of your mistakes and exposing them to those who are affected.’

I enjoy exposing guests to different worldviews and opinions

When you work with statistics, a small mistake can have a great impact, he says. ‘You should be aware that actions have consequences, that’s a lesson that Courage Under Fire has taught me about my work.’ 

So when a friend in Groningen asked him to channel his love for film into a club that engages people in meaningful dialogue, he jumped at the idea. He loves seeing that a film has affected someone. ‘I enjoy exposing guests to different worldviews and opinions. I want them to keep thinking about the movies they have seen.’


He usually decides to show thought-provoking films like David Lynch’s Elephant Man or James Ivory’s The Remains of the Day. Touching on subjects such as forgiveness, self-doubt or sacrifice, Almansa hopes that his selected pictures initiate small realisations in his guests.

Even small observations can start impactful discussions, he says. And if that affects even one visitor in a positive way, he considers his club successful. ‘We can hardly change ourselves as humans, so the most important life changes are small.’ 

Still, Almansa was not always sure whether the film club was the best way of living out his enthusiasm for cinema. He has thought of quitting before, he says. ‘Marketing isn’t my thing and it is a lot of pressure to get the people interested. What if they come for the first time and do not like the movie I chose, or the discussion that followed? Will they ever come back?’ 

Political films

Starting a critical and thought-provoking discussion is a difficult task too, he feels. Too much diversity in genres and ideologies can create conflict, but offering too little variation creates a bubble in which people are only exposed to worldviews and opinions they agree with. 

It is a lot of pressure to get the people interested

Consequently, he stays away from overly political films that could put a wedge between his guests. A subconscious choice, according to him. ‘I am just a very non-confrontational person’, he laughs. 

His concept seems to work though, as people do come back. ‘There are usually a few new faces, but many regulars drop by as well.’ 

The balance between his abstract work and the more lively film discussions on Friday nights grounds Almansa. And when he’s not at work or organising cinema nights, you can still find him seeking out movies in all their forms. ‘I try to be at every film discussion in Groningen, for instance the Marvellous Mind series at the Forum.’ 

Want to join? Events are announced on the Let’s movie it Facebook page. The next screening is the 1944 psychological thriller ‘Gaslight’ on October 20, 7.30 p.m. at the SKLO building at Kraneweg 33. Entrance is free.