WILKES-BARRE — This summer the F.M. Kirby Center will offer an alternative to big-budget blockbusters during the center’s film series which began in 1986.
The Kirby Center’s 2016 W. Curtis Montz Film Series is scheduled to include 11 films and documentaries chosen in spirit of the late Kirby Center employee, who programmed a number of independent films, documentaries and Oscar darlings for the venue until his health forced him into retirement in 2011. The film series, which was named after Montz in 2006, is returning to its traditional format after a year without Wednesday summer showings.
“This is definitely a revival of what we think Curtis believed in and wanted to show at the Kirby Center and that meant a lot to us,” Kirby Center Director of Sales and Marketing Anne Rodella said. “Last year would’ve been our first full departure. We didn’t show any films of this type. I think it was missed; we missed it.”
This year’s schedule was put together by Kirby Center Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator Lauren Menn, whose personal choices hit many of the notes Montz was known for. Documentaries like “He Named Me Malala” and “Racing Extinction” explore real subjects in the world, while dramatic efforts like “Carol” and “Anomalisa” act as a microcosm of the modern human experience.
Some of the series’ films, like “The Assassin” and “The Lobster,” are pure art house productions; Menn is particularly excited she was able to secure the latter, a black comedy starring Colin Farrell that parodies the stereotypes of the single life with metaphors.
“I thought that was going to be my long shot, I thought there was no way they were going to say yes to this,” Menn said. “I hounded them, essentially begging because I wanted it so badly. That was the one I was most passionate about.”
Curtis’ son, Hank Montz, thinks his father would be happy with the films chosen for the series that bares his name.
“The selections seem to be similar to the kind of taste he had,” Hank said. “He was always a film buff and he wanted to choose films he thought an audience would enjoy, but that you weren’t going to find in your mainstream theater.”
Wilkes-Barre resident Kathy O’Neill was part of the audience for which Curtis chose films. She attended Kirby Center screenings for the better part of two decades and said the late film buff chose his selections wisely — the vast majority of them, anyway.
“That’s what makes the series so wonderful, his choices were great, they were always surprises,” O’Neill said. “We went just about every Wednesday night we could and there was only one movie I remember I didn’t like. I don’t remember the name of it, but it was about a woman wandering through the desert. It was just scenes of desert after desert and she was wandering through the desert.”
There are no deserts in the first film of the 2016 W. Curtis Montz Film Series, “Carol,” which screens Wednesday, June 22 at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. F.M. Kirby Center will screen a new movie most Wednesdays through Sept. 14 (other tenants take over the Kirby on July 13 and Sept. 7). For more information, call 570-826-1100 or visit KirbyCenter.org.