Fredericton’s film aficionados have had a place to go and watch limited-release, independent or international films on a big screen, for decades.
The local movie theatre has always played the role of showing high-grossing films. The role of showing other movies that didn’t end up in the main theatres can often fall to community members.
The history of the Monday Night Film Series, presented by the New Brunswick Filmmakers’ Co-operative, goes back to the 1980s, when a man named John Peters purchased a couple of 35mm projectors to screen movies.
He started up what was called the Capital Series and would show films on the third floor of Fredericton’s Clark Building at the corner of King and York streets.
Two years later Peters did not want to continue, so he offered his equipment to Barry Cameron, who was an English Professor at the University of New Brunswick at the time.
Tony Merzetti, executive director of the NB Film Co-op, which runs the current iteration of the Monday Night Film series, said Cameron convinced la Centre Communautaire Sainte-Anne to host the series by screening French films alongside English ones.
Around 1991, the French series came to a halt and Cameron decided it was time to find a new home.
“Tilley Hall was the theatre auditorium that was closest to where the English department was, so they set up the space so they could bring the projectors there and the series ran for a number of years thereafter,” said Merzetti.
When Cameron retired in 2005, Merzetti took over and the Monday Night Film Series, in its current form, began.
The series took an extended pause in 2020 for the first time in over 40 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic but has returned and will run for the duration of the winter semester.
The Monday Night Film Series partners with the Toronto Film Festival circuit group to assist in curating the lineup of films that will be screened.
“A film society basically allows you to bring in some of these smaller films and some films that wouldn’t necessarily get distribution at cinemas, but they’re still amazing films,” said Merzetti.
He said this year’s lineup of films has a strong focus on women’s stories and will show films like Carmen and The Return of Tanya Tucker.
Even though the films are screened at UNB’s Tilley Hall every Monday night at 7:30 p.m., the majority of those who come to the screenings are not students.
“We would like to see more students coming out because we think these films are really good and it’s a wonderful community. We have a lot more seniors and older people that are coming to see the films now,” said Merzetti.