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Lose yourself

Four film buffs at Seabrook hand-pick titles to neighbors’ delight

Created date

September 20th, 2016

“If you can lose yourself in a movie, it’s a wonderful thing,” says Regina Pickover, one of four film buffs at Seabrook who have prescreened nearly a hundred films—mostly obscure titles—for periodic film festivals at the Erickson Living community in Tinton Falls, N.J. 

Expanding already

The foursome began their mission in January by kicking off the political year with a corresponding theme. Films included The American President, Wag the Dog, Dave, and Swing Vote

The films received much praise, and the four women prepared “Mondays With Maggie” for March, featuring little-known titles with the well-known British actress Maggie Smith.

With each festival, popularity has grown for the professional-quality screenings that are shown conveniently in the on-campus auditorium. Rain or shine, residents can attend without having to step outside or drive anywhere. 

In fact, the “Gang of Four,” as the women are called, have received so much praise from community members that they plan to show films every Monday evening through the end of the year. 

“It’s a good sense of accomplishment that we’re doing something for the community that has gotten such good response,” says Rose Linden, one of the gang.

In fact, that’s Helen Satter’s favorite part. “What I enjoy most is when we show the movie and people walk out with a smile and say ‘Thank you,’ or sometimes they clap,” Helen says. Her second favorite aspect is the camaraderie of screening the films with the other three ladies.

Regina attributes their success to those hours spent prescreening films for foul language, violence, or “themes that people might not enjoy,” she says. 

They also ensure each film is in good condition and test them prior to each screening on the professional-quality projection equipment in the auditorium. 

“Prescreening is a very important step to ensure the films we choose bring pleasure to the people who watch them,” she says. “It’s all about bringing pleasure to our neighbors....Movies are a very enjoyable pastime and a wonderful way to relax.”

Film buff buddies

While they clearly enjoy introducing their neighbors to great films, they also enjoy the camaraderie of each other.  

“I’ve always been a film buff, and I’ve been delighted to find other women who feel the same way I do. It’s been a lot of fun,” says Rose, who particularly enjoys foreign films. 

“They’re more realistic and deal with human relationships in a more natural way. The acting is much more natural than what you find in Hollywood,” she says.

The foursome begins planning for a film festival with each woman recommending a theme. Once they select a theme, they begin suggesting, sharing, and reminding each other about films. They also use the on-site library to conduct research. 

They review 12 to 13 movies in order to choose 3 to 5 for a select month.

“We try to review them all together as a group,” says Ruth Lebo, the gang’s unofficial leader. “We prefer together because we bounce ideas off each other. It’s just a joy to work with these gals.”

They also prepare their own publicity fliers and posters. And another volunteer, Bea Yeaman, works the projector. “Bea meets with me to go over each film and all the equipment because we want an absolutely smooth evening. She is just marvelous,” says Ruth.

She says that when they began in January, they didn’t know where the path would lead them. Now, not even a year later, they’re getting stopped in the halls by neighbors telling them what a delight the movies have been.

“We’re just volunteers. We’re just people at Seabrook having a blast,” says Ruth.

This month, the theme of food will feature films like Chocolat (2000), starring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche, and Babette’s Feast (1987), a Danish film starring Birgitte Federspiel and Bodil Kjer.

What to watch

Looking for a great movie? Check out these hidden gems hand-picked by Seabrook’s film buffs:

Ladies in Lavender (2004)
Starring: Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, and Daniel Bruhl

Keeping Mum (2005)
Starring: Maggie Smith, Rowan Atkinson, and Kristin Scott Thomas

My House in Umbria (2003)
Starring: Maggie Smith, Chris Cooper, and Timothy Spall

Letters to Juliet (2010)
Starring: Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave

On Golden Pond (1981)
Starring: Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda

Her Majesty Mrs. Brown (1997)
Starring: Judi Dench and Billy Connolly

Kolya (1996)
Starring: Zdenek Sverák, Andrey Khalimon, and Libuse Safránková

Akeelah and the Bee (2006)
Starring: Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne

Wadjda (2012)
Starring: Waad Mohammed, Reem Abdullah, and Abdullrahman Al Gohani 

Together (2003)
Starring: Tang Yun, Liu Peiqi, Chen Hong, and Wang Zhiwen

Cinema Paradiso (1998)
Starring: Philippe Noiret, Enzo Cannavale, and Antonella Attili 

The American President (1995)
Starring: Michael Douglas and Annette Bening

Wag the Dog (1997)
Starring: Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro

Dave (1993)
Starring: Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver