"Is it a film class?" I asked.
"Well, not exactly," said Ruby. "It's a club. We screen new movies and then talk about them, sometimes with guest speakers. You probably know some of the club members, there are about 150 film fans from around the Bay Area."
Straightforward enough...but then Ruby added the twist: "Just don't tell anyone beforehand what the film is. The whole point is they don't know what movie they're seeing until they show up at the theater."
This was my kind of film club. I had realized from attending many film festivals that one of the greatest pleasures of seeing a film early on is being able to experience it as a tabula rasa, before the hype, trailers, reviews and even word-of-mouth had influenced my perception of it. (This is the premise, for example, of the Telluride Film Festival, whose selections are not announced, even to the press, until it opens.) Seeing films this way, especially when you trust the curators, heightens both your sense of discovery and the surprise of enjoying something you might have skipped when influenced by preconceptions.
If you'd like to learn more about the club, which meets seven times in both the Fall and Spring seasons at the Sundance Kabuki, you can check out the website or read Sam Whiting's San Francisco Chronicle feature, which ran a couple of years ago.