Column: Power of the small screen

Organizer is all for breaking down stigmas around mental health, but he runs all kinds of films

Monday night’s movie screening started earlier than I’d figured.

I thought there was time to sneak home from work, eat dinner and put my kid to bed, before rushing off to cover that Monday movie thing I’ve been hearing about.

Turns out it’s the best kept secret around.

I walked into the hallway of the Eric Martin Pavilion at 8 p.m. There’s something about the smell of an old hospital that can slow time. By my count I was 90 minutes late for the start of that night’s documentary, Wiebo’s War.

No sooner was I through the door of the pavilion when I stumbled onto the group. Five people, two couches and a 30 inch tube TV. In the hallway?

So this is Movie Monday?, I thought. It’s smaller than I had predicted, and it seems like a lot of effort for just a few people.

Organizer Bruce Saunders was one of the five sitting in the well-lit hallway, and I knew I was in the right place. There was a giant Monday Movie sign and everything.

I sat on the floor of the hallway behind the couches.

Wiebo’s War, if you haven’t seen it, is a fascinating tale about Wiebo Ludwig and the people of Trickle Creek in northern Alberta. And it quickly drew me in.

The community, who are referred to as Ludwigs, explain their fight against the neighbouring gas mines, which have slowly poisoned them over the past two decades.

Knowing that I was in the Eric Martin Pavilion, which traditionally cared for people with mental health issues, and knowing Saunders’ own personal history with mental health issues, I was ready for anything.

So when white-linen-suit-guy got up and walked around during the climax of the movie, I judged not. He crossed the hall, opened a door to a lecture theatre, and disappeared inside. Boy did I feel smart when, through the open door, I could see the dark theatre was full of people with the same movie on a giant screen.

Oh, that’s Movie Monday.

“We provide the TV and couches in the hallway so people can come and go,” Saunders explained to me later. “Some people don’t like to sit down too long, and we like to accommodate if we can.”

When the movie ended I entered the main theatre. It was nearly full, and almost everyone stayed put as the lights came on. Saunders took the microphone, held it to a speakerphone and phoned the director of Wiebo’s War, David York.

“Hi David.”

“Hi Bruce.”

York fielded 80 minutes worth of questions from the audience while Saunders moderated.

It was a great Q&A, full money’s worth (admission is by donation and averages $2 per head).

“Directors want to talk about their movies,” Saunders said. “But it’s common to get 10 minutes or so at a film festival.”

And anyone who stuck around on Monday learned the true brilliance of York. Which means Saunders is essentially running a year round film festival.

Saunders created the weekly viewings in the Eric Martin lecture theatre in 1993, following a stint as an in-patient after his second attempt at suicide.

He got an idea to use movies to create a positive environment for people with mental illness, at least a better option than regular TV.

He ran his first Q&A in 1993, his first year of running Movie Monday. It was for Benny and Joon, a movie that deals with schizophrenia, with director Jeremiah Chechik.

In the 1990s he also ran a Q&A from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, perhaps the most famed movie about mental health..and spoke with actor Dr. Dean Kent Brooks M.D., who played the head doctor from that movie, about the controversial therapies it covered.

Saunders is all for breaking down stigmas around mental health, but he runs all kinds of shows.

“The Canadian films in particular of all the films we run are much more creative and important than what Hollywood offers, but people just don’t know about them.”

This Monday (Aug. 27) he’s showing Love That Boy, a 2003 comedy from Halifax.

Travis Paterson is the Black Press regional sports reporter.

 

 

Just Posted

Overworked and understaffed: More than 300 vacancies in Vancouver Island nursing

Tentative deal with province includes ‘working short premium’ to encourage hiring

CRD committee proposes ending livestock payouts to farmers

The bylaw has existed since the creation of the CRD’s animal control service in 1979

Victoria city council seeks authority to tax empty homes

Council is asking the province for the authority to invoke a vacancy tax

Backyardigans, Max & Ruby stage shows add to Family Day in Sidney

Bodine Hall shows make room for kids to sing, dance, enjoy Family Day weekend

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes says municipality will re-group after Rowing Canada decision

Haynes said he is “quite disappointed” but also respects choice of North Cowichan as national centre

VIDEO: Excessive speed on the Malahat captured by dash cam footage

Poster calls driving ‘dangerous, obnoxious and disrespectful’

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

The Victoria Natural History Society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

Most Read