The original idea of organizing summer film seminars for the members of Czech film clubs arose in the 1960s. The first such meeting took place in Čimelice in 1964 and was attended by nearly 50 film buffs who had the chance to see high quality art films that had not been released in official theatrical distribution. The lectures were given by the Czech leading film experts while the aim was to arrange the meetings of film club organisers and lectors in order to extend their professional education.
The initial form of the festival – only for invited film club members – converted into a public event. In the following thirteen years, the meetings took place in Písek and were called “Seminar for Film Clubs” or “Seminar for Members of Film Clubs”. Later on in 1975, when the attendance soared to 250 visitors, the event was renamed “Summer Film School”. The festival kept changing its location until the beginning of the 1980s when, with more than 500 visitors at that time, it finally settled down in Uherské Hradiště.
In pursuit of keeping the festival well balanced, a rule of the limited number of film club participants was imposed. The event continually faced the threats of being banned by the Communist Party. After the Velvet Revolution it met both with a loss of exclusivity and an attendance downturn. The festival moved to Uherské Hradiště (except for 1997 when the floods droved it away to Jihlava). An overall conception of the festival had to be changed after 1992 when the attendance dropped to 250 visitors.
In 1993, Summer Film School opened to the public. It increased the number of screened films and festival guests and extended its industry and extra programmes. The number of screening venues increased as well. Summer Film School is currently one of the major cultural events in the Czech Republic.