Even in its 20th year, Movie Monday continues to slip under the radar. Or does it?
For those in the know, it’s a good thing. It means more facetime with coordinator Bruce Saunders, who brings one hell of a conversation, and – if the film being screened is followed by a Q&A with the director – then there’s an even better chance to talk to them too.
Plus, the lecture theatre of the Eric Martin Pavilion at Royal Jubilee Hospital is big, but not that big, so regulars can count on getting a seat.
In reality, the Monday night screenings draw between 70 to 80 people, a mostly full theatre, while the donations average $1 per head.
“We certainly get our share of full houses,” Saunders says. “Special screenings, in particular, will fill the place, such as the 19th anniversary party we recently held in June.”
Saunders has often wondered if people are wary about coming down to Movie Monday because it’s housed in the Eric Martin, the hospital’s mental health ward.
“Originally it was to cater to in-patients but I gradually learned they are unlikely to make it down, as they’re waiting for family.
“Patients are now in the new Patient Care Centre and the main reason I realized they don’t flock to the films is, these days especially, the facility is for acutely ill people so they are not so ‘at ease’ to come join us for a film, but they are always welcome, as we welcome anyone who wants to see a good movie.”
Saunders has engaged the public to let them know the event is open to all, and the movies cover the whole spectrum. He arranged a Q&A with psychiatrist Dr. Dean Brooks, who was in charge of Oregon State Hospital at the time One Flew Over Cuckoo’s Nest was shot there, and acted in it, too (only later did Saunders moderate the Q&A sessions for Movie Monday).
“I’ve always wanted to make this a place for people with mental illness to come and find community. But mental illness is invisible anyways, so there’s no quantifying just how much of an impact we’ve had.”
On Friday Aug. 17, for example, Saunders showed The Maze, the story of Canadian artist William Kurelek, whose work is on exhibit at the Art Gallery of Victoria until Sept. 3. In attendance were filmmaker Zack Young and Kurelek’s son, Stephen, who addressed the packed audience.
William Kurelek died a devout Catholic in 1977 at the age of 50, recovered from a troubled life of mental illness and addiction.
“To me, it’s such an incredibly valuable film,” Saunders said. “I really believe we’ll see Kurelek end up on par with Emily Carr one day, not so far away, and we unravelled the whole story right here.”
It’s another example of the many great films which slip through the cracks of mainstream movie watchers.
“There’s so many of these Canadian and international movies that we’ve shown.
“When I started in 1993, I had no idea I could keep the program together this long. But there’s so much positive feedback.”
Sept. 10, 6:30 p.m. Into The Wind rediscovers the Terry Fox story, just in time for the annual run happening on Sept. 16. The documentary features Steve Nash and his filmmaker cousin Ezra Holland and goes far beyond what most Canadians know about the icon.
Sept. 17, 6:30 p.m., To Make a Farm.