In the heart of the academic hub at UNB, an engaging reel of films unfold every week drawing both cinephiles and curious minds alike.
The Monday Night Film Series, orchestrated by the New Brunswick Filmmakers’ Co-operative, has been a cinematic cornerstone since its inception in 1985.
Tony Merzetti, Executive Director of the NB Film Co-op, explained that the Film Series attempts to,
“provide local audiences access to Canadian and international films that would not typically play at the cineplex.”
This mission serves as the guiding light for selecting films that offer a diverse spectrum of stories. Working closely with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Film Circuit Group, the series showcases high-quality, eclectic, and art-house films, fostering an atmosphere of anticipation and excitement among attendees.
According to Merzetti, the film series has evolved over the years, transitioning from the scratchy projections of 35mm celluloid to the crisp reliability of digital projection. Yet, the core essence of the series remains unchanged – an enthusiastic audience, respectful and deeply engaged. As Merzetti puts it:
“There is an excitement in the air as the audience members assemble in the lobby and in the theater and a buzz as they talk about the film that they’re about to see”.
For Dr. Rob Gray, films transcend mere entertainment; they spark profound conversations and reflections. He shares,
“I think we deeply need the sort of communion with ourselves and others we can find in films. For our well-being, but also so we can learn to care more deeply.”
This philosophy is reflected in the unique genre courses he teaches, such as ‘Women and Vengeance’ and ‘Zombies in Film,’ where students explore films that challenge perspectives and prompt self-reflection.
The collaboration between the MAAC Department and the NB Film Co-op enhances the learning experience for students. By opening classes to outside attendees, diverse audiences create a vibrant atmosphere during screenings. Prof. Gray recalls an instance where different generations, brought together by a film, shared laughter, breaking down barriers and fostering understanding.
The COVID-19 pandemic posed challenges, temporarily halting the in-person film series. Prof. Gray notes that resuming in-person screenings provided solace during challenging times.
“During the winter, it is an excellent respite from the dark cold days that we must get through.”
Looking ahead, the MAAC department continues to innovate, bridging gaps between academia and real-world cinema. Special events, like the ongoing Zombie Film Series and collaborations with international embassies offer glimpses into the diverse cinematic world. Prof. Gray’s recommendation, “Women Talking,” stands as a testament to the power of cinema, intertwining darkness and hope in a poignant narrative.
In essence, the movies shown on campus aren’t mere screenings. Instead, they are experiences that connect people, challenge perceptions, and inspire meaningful dialogues.