At the start of most weeks in State College, you can catch an alternative film — something you may have missed the first time around, or something that never made it to the area — at The State Theatre.
Jan Bradley, finance and human resources manager at The State Theatre, said the films selected for the Monday Movie Series deal with deeper issues than standard Hollywood blockbusters.
“I like to choose films that are a bit off the beaten path — stories that are more about the journey than the destination,” Bradley said. “In addition I like to find movies that offer us a glimpse into the human experience — the joys and struggles of aging, challenges facing people who make hard choices to be their authentic selves, stories that ask ‘what’s it all about?’
“We also show a couple music documentaries per season because, after all, The State Theatre is a fantastic venue for nationally touring groups of many music genres.”
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The Monday Movie Series inspired local film enthusiast Tina Konrath to volunteer her time.
“I just happen to love the state and watching movies in a theater setting,” she said. “We’d love for our film lover’s community to grow — everyone is welcome, and groups can buy tickets at a discount.”
A “Reel Fans” subscription program funds the series and enables benefits for members, including free tickets and popcorn, invitations to special events and, at the highest level, the ability to select a movie for the series, Konrath said.
“We show a wide range of movies, but they are typically the kinds of films that either don’t make it to the larger theaters in the area or aren’t there for very long,” Konrath said. “Movie selections come from many sources: Listening to interviews and reviews on NPR, film festival selections, scouring IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes and suggestions from staff and patrons.”
In addition to the films themselves, The State Theatre presents accompanying events or themes depending on the specific piece of cinema.
“Recently we held a reception for Reel Fans before our showing of ‘Miles Ahead’ — we had classic movie treats (Milk Duds, Swedish Fish, popcorn), movie trivia, a movie suggestion drop-off and great conversations,” Konrath said. “In November, Helen Manfull, professor emerita from the Penn State School of Theater, will speak before the evening showing of ‘Marguerite’ on Nov. 21. She filled the attic after last year’s showing of ‘Gosford Park.’ ”
The Monday Movie Series is also designed to pay homage to The State Theatre’s long and storied history, Bradley said.
“Warner Brothers originally built The State Theatre in 1938 as a test market for new movies,” Bradley said. “In 2001 the doors closed. In 2006, The State Theatre reopened as a community nonprofit performing arts center thanks to the generosity and hard work of many local community members.”
Bradley joined the theater staff two years ago and said the state was trying to find the proper niche for its film program.
“I wanted to bring movies to the state that were not being shown at our two local cineplexes: indie films, foreign films, documentaries, the classics,” Bradley said. “We settled on Mondays because they tend to be less in demand for national acts and local theater. My passion for our film program stems in part from a strong desire to honor the roots of our beautiful building; a place to introduce the art of cinema to the people. I like to think of The State Theatre as a large living room bringing people from the community together to experience performance art in its many forms: film, live music (both local and national), dance, spoken word and stage performances.”
A passion for film has driven this project from the very beginning.
“I think movies can provide a way of looking at the world through another lens, to gain a new perspective or challenge an existing one, to meet other cinephiles and/or to simply be entertained,” Konrath said.
There are two showings of each film in the Monday Movie Series: 4 and 7:30 p.m. The Oct. 17 movie, “Pride,” is sponsored by the Centre LGBTQA Support Network.
Oct. 17, “Pride”
Oct. 24, “Our Brand is Crisis”
Oct. 31, “Of Mind and Music”
Nov. 14, “Born to Be Blue”
Nov. 21, “Marguerite”
Nov. 28, “Youth”
Dec. 5, “45 Years”
Dec. 12, “99 Homes”
*All showings are at 4 and 7:30 p.m. at The State Theatre. Visit www.thestatetheatre.org for more information.