Film series offers an alternative to standard blockbusters

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>Members of the Lunenburg County Film Series group greet guests at a showing of <em>C&#8217;est La Vie</em> at the Cineplex in Bridgewater February 21. Left to right are members Richard Donat, Ron Topp, Deb Beers, Maggie Thomas and Susan Goodwin.</p>
  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>More than 80 film enthusiasts showed up for each of two screenings of <em>C&#8217;est La Vie</em> February 21 as part of the Lunenburg County Film Series at the Cineplex in Bridgewater.</p>
  • <p>CONTRIBUTED</p><p>Poster of the next screening in the Lunenburg County Film Series, Film Stars Don&#8217;t Die In Liverpool, with Annette Bening, Jamie Bell and Julie Walters on March 7.</p>

A late Wednesday afternoon isn't a time one might typically associate with people streaming into Bridgewater's Cineplex theatre to watch a film, and a foreign-language one at that.

But on February 21 more than 80 film enthusiasts showed up to view the 4 p.m. screening of C'est La Vie.

And the 7 p.m. screening saw about the same number again.

The film buffs were there to enjoy the latest limited release film screened by the Lunenburg County Film Series.

Originating in 2004 and orchestrated through the non-profit Lunenburg County Film Series Association, the screenings are designed to serve up films that go beyond the steady diet of blockbuster movies that tend to be shown in the commercial theatres.

"Most of the films we show are ones that would never come here," says Deb Beer,who is on the association's steering committee.

"And especially if it's foreign language. They don't bring them to small towns. So I sort of think our mandate is to bring movies that won't come to small towns," adds Ron Topp, another committee member.

The association is a member of Film Circuit, an outreach program of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) which is spread across Canada.

The partnership allows the Lunenburg steering committee to choose from a wide range of critically acclaimed international films, in a variety of languages, as well as from Canadian productions.

The steering committee behind the selections is made up of a variety of film industry members and enthusiasts. Beers is a script supervisor and the artistic and community events coordinator at the Lunenburg Doc Fest, while Topp was the owner of the former Seger's book store in Bridgewater.

There's Richard Donat, an actor and director, Maggie Thomas, a script supervisor, and cinematographer Christopher Ball, as well as others.

The series offers nine films a year. Pass owners pay $48, and get one free screening, while individual tickets are $8 each.

At the end of each season, the group offers up a $1,000 bursary to a selected applicant interested in pursuing study in film, television or theatre.

Regulars Wendy Muise and Dan Wilson were there at the afternoon showing on February 21. According to Muise, the film series offers the chance to see films that sometime don't even make it to Halifax. However, she says, "It doesn't matter what they're showing. They're all good."

On March 7, the group will screen Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, with Annette Bening, Jamie Bell and Julie Walters.

Anyone wanting a full schedule of upcoming films and a bursary application can go to the group's website: http://www.lunenburgfilms.com/wp/

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