Olympia Film Society

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The stage and screen at Capitol Theater, Olympia, Washington

Olympia Film Society (OFS) is a nonprofit arts organization in Olympia, Washington that shows independent, international and classic film year-round, offers special live performances, and produces the Olympia Film Festival. OFS welcomes its members and non-member patrons to the Capitol Theater.

Marked by steady growth in members, volunteers, and regular film screenings, OFS grew from a handful of film lovers chipping in to rent films once a month to an organization with over 2000 members.


Film is a vital part of our culture – sometimes window, sometimes mirror; sometimes clear, simple and stark; sometimes subtle, complex and mysterious.

As a medium of art and entertainment, film has roots in both the past and Present, and the insights of contemporary audience. We are cinephiles from the South Puget Sound area, interested in expanding our engagement with film and in developing our insights into filmmaking and filmmakers. We have therefore joined together, forming the Olympia Film Society, to extend and share our understanding and enjoyment of the cinematic arts. Our mission is to enhance film appreciation within the community by promoting alternative films and by aiding and encouraging the development of allied arts.


  • To enrich the cultural resources of the South Puget Sound area by broadening access to film;
  • To encourage a deeper understanding of the film medium among ourselves and in the broader community;
  • To facilitate diverse avenues of engagement with filmmakers and filmmaking, reflecting the diverse interests of the membership;
  • To maintain high standards of participatory decision-making and fiscal accountability in keeping with the cooperative nature of our association, and our status as a nonprofit cultural and educational corporation;
  • To promote the spirit of an active volunteer society among the membership; and
  • To unite and educate by enlisting the power of film and the allied arts to illuminate the intricacies of diverse cultures, the natural world and the human condition.


  • Every movie that is screened is run by volunteers. There are two people in the box office, two in concessions, one lobby supervisor, and 1-2 up in the projection booth. There are typically 15 movie screenings a week with most folks opting for a regular weekly shift. There are around 150 regular volunteers, with additional tasks ranging from program distribution to art curation. There are currently (09/07) four paid staff in the staff collective, and two peripheral staff.


  • 1980: OFS forms when a dozen people gather to at the old Washington School on Legion Way to watch the first show, “The 39 Steps” and “Foreign Correspondent,” a double-feature tribute to Alfred Hitchcock.
  • 1981: OFS moves to [Capitol City Studios and purchases 16-millimeter projector.
  • 1984: The Olympia Film Festival is born, taking place at the State Theater. OFS membership jumps from 60 to 600.
  • 1986: OFS starts showing films at the Capitol Theater, built in 1924. To accompany the silent classic “Pandora’s Box,” Timothy Brock conducts the Olympia Chamber Orchestra’s world premiere of his original score.
  • 1988: OFS takes on its first major capital expenditure to buy a new 35mm projection system.
  • 1990: OFS finds a home in the Capitol Theater, signing the lease in time for the November Film Festival. ArtsWalk, Olympia's biannual downtown arts festival, is born this year to coincide with the opening of the Olympia Film Festival.
  • 1992: The Northwest Premiere of Disney's Aladdin brings the Olympia Film Festival unprecedented attention.
  • 1993: The production wing of the Olympia Film Society, the Olympia Film Ranch, is founded. The Film Ranch begins providing workshops and equipment rental to OFS members.
  • 1997: Opening night of the OFF14 introduces the first phase of our new Dolby sound system, twelve new JBL surround speakers and a Dolby CP 500 cinema processor. Guests include world-renowned animators The Brothers Quay and cinematographer Michael Spiller.
  • 1998: The After Quartet packs the Capitol Theater with their rousing score to Fritz Lang's's Metropolis. OFF15 brings producer Ted Hope, opening night filmmaker Hilary Brougher and film scholar Ray Carney.
  • 1999: The Capitol Theater goes digital, thanks to a generous upgrade in our sound system courtesy of Dolby Digital. OFF16 urges Rick Schmidt (author, Feature Filmmaking at Used Car Prices) to dust off his old 16 mm prints for a retrospective that was a favorite with audiences. San Francisco's Sprocket Ensemble performs a feature-length program of their live scores to short contemporary animation. A new print of Orson Welles' The Trial closes our best festival yet.
  • 2000: Ray Carney returns to present a retrospective of the films of Robert Bresson. OFF17 presents its most comprehensive series of panel discussions and guest seminars. All Freakin' Night breaks the previous records of attendance and bad taste for our classic all-night horror film marathon.
  • 2001: OFS and the Capitol Theater survive a 6.8 earthquake and resume operations after six weeks of repairs. With a completed Dolby system and extensive renovations, OFF18 kicks off with a pre-festival screening of Mulholland Drive ends with a sold out screening of Amélie.
  • 2002: OFS acquires our very own video projector, broadening opportunities for media exhibition. The OFF19 welcomes underground legends the Kuchar Brothers (John Waters' self-proclaimed single biggest inspiration) for a career retrospective. Bob and David from Mr. Show host a once-in-a-lifetime presentation of one of their guilty pleasures. The fest closes with a crowd pleasing screening of Real Women Have Curves.
  • October 2005: The Regal Foundation offered to hold a one-day fund raiser for the Olympia Film Society, prior to the Grand Opening of their Martin Village (Lacey) Regal Cinemas. All $1.00 ticket sales and $1.00 popcorn and soda sales were donated to OFS to the tune of $22,966.89.
  • January 2008: The Capitol Theater marquee, a 1940 addition, is removed. Stained glass muses are revealed.

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