Movie Monday turns 20

Popular film screening event presents enlightening and entertaining films for the public

Bruce Saunders at his day job as a gardener

Every Monday evening for the last 20 years, Bruce Saunders rushes home from his day tending some of the city’s finest gardens, takes a quick shower and heads down to the Eric Martin Pavilion to set up the theatre for Movie Monday. And every Monday evening, dozens of people show up to see a movie, chosen by Saunders, and partake in a discussion about the film, often with special guests in attendance.

But just because the event is at the former mental health hospital, it doesn’t mean you have to have a mental illness to come — Movie Monday is open to the general public and the films screened at the event are often as entertaining as they are enlightening, covering everything from stories of people dealing with mental illness, to overcoming other challenges in day-to-day life, and stories that are just plain fun.

“A lot of people think we’re only showing stuff about mental illness, or that Movie Monday is only for people dealing with that,” says Saunders. “But film is a great catalyst. We show movies about all the issues life throws at you, hopeful stories … I love introducing people to films they should see.”

Admission is by donation and snacks are available on the cheap. “It’s only $1 for popcorn with butter,” says Saunders. “And donations are optional. We don’t want to embarrass anyone who can’t afford to pay.”

Saunders got the idea for Movie Monday when he was a patient at the Eric Martin Pavilion. Saunders was in the hospital after a second suicide attempt and a battle with severe depression. He was diagnosed bi-polar a few years earlier.

“The stuff we were watching on the ward was terrible,” says Saunders. “Things like Cops and Oprah. Mental illness was depicted as evil … Even when I was really ill I thought we could do better.”

When Saunders discovered the 100-seat theatre with video projector, the Movie Monday concept came to be. Now he’s showing 60 films a year — every Monday (even on holidays and long weekends) and now some Wednesdays with Music Movie Wednesday, a collaboration with the Friends of Music Society.

“It feels good to do something open, positive and user-friendly,” says Saunders. “Everything got a whole lot easier when I started to do Movie Monday … It’s a real privilege to be a window into so many stories and lives.”

Saunders occasionally records the discussions and makes them available at Yo Video (2000 Cadboro Bay), along with hundreds of films screened at Movie Monday in a special section.

“Expect more than just a movie,” says Saunders. “These are older films, yes, but they’re unique films that you don’t get to see elsewhere.”

The 20th anniversary celebration is Mon., June 17 at 6:30pm. The feature film that evening is Cubers, a look at the brainiacs obsessed with the Rubic’s Cube. Saunders will provide the cake. M

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two causes to be heard on legislature lawn during B.C. budget unveiling

Demonstrations from forestry workers and Extinction Rebellion planned

Migration drives Greater Victoria’s population growth

Region surpasses 400,000 population despite seeing more deaths than births

Oak Bay looks into boulevard gardens

Legalizing boulevard gardening among working group ideas

Recent arrests skim surface of Victoria’s human trafficking problem

Port city makes desirable place for traffickers flying under the radar

Peninsula and Area Agricultural Commission criticizes Central Saanich over committee demise

PAAC also calls on municipality to revive ag committee disbanded earlier

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

AFN national chief calls for calm on Wet’suwet’en crisis, rail blockades

Hereditary chiefs in the Wet’suwet’en First Nation oppose the natural-gas pipeline

Federal, B.C. ministers seek meeting with Wet’suwet’en in hope of blockade solution

Coastal GasLink signed agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the pipeline route

Flight to evacuate Canadians from cruise ship ‘expected’ to depart Japan on Thursday

Canadians seeking to return to home by commercial means will be subject to the Quarantine Act

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Most Read