The move from film to videotape and DVD has its detractors, but it has been a boon for fans of silent, classic, foreign and other categories of movies heretofore restricted to the silver screen … when screened at all.

Gone are the days when a passionate film fan had to trek to a big-city revival house or the basement of a small-town library to see great movies from the past or from other countries. Locally, however, libraries still offer film screenings, without the wheeling out of a rickety projector.

Two of the Midcoast library screenings are helmed by Erika Pfander, whose Thomaston home is filled top to bottom with books and movies, the latter in both VHS and DVD formats. She has been hosting weekly screenings at her hometown library for going on 10 years, every Friday night. Last year, she began showing films from her collection at Rockland Public Library.

On Thursday, Jan. 22, a new series, dubbed Pfander’s Favorite Films, makes its debut at the Rockland library, scheduled for the fourth Thursday of every month in the downstairs Friends Meeting Room. The winter’s films are favorites from Pfander’s extensive foreign film collection: “Babette’s Feast” (1987, Denmark) in January; “The King of Masks” (1996, China/Hong Kong) in February; and “Owl and the Sparrow” (2007, Vietnam/USA) in March.

The week before the first screening, Pfander was weeding through her options. Because the library closes at 8 p.m. and the movie programs start two hours earlier, she has to cull the collection to films of 100 minutes or less.

“You have to leave a few minutes for latecomers, and Patty starts with a short welcome talk about what’s coming up,” Pfander said.

Rockland Public Library Deputy Librarian Patty King and Library Director Amy Levine are enthused about the film series.

“We’re very excited to be able to share some of the best of Erika Pfander’s extensive film collection and have her pass on her insight, passion and knowledge about these great movies,” they said.

Pfander said her experience last year in Rockland was that there are a few folks who regularly come to screenings, but most are different each time.

“In Thomaston, we have a regular group of people who come every week,” she said.

Neither library has an extensive foreign film collection, although Rockland’s is a bit bigger, Pfander said, so foreign movies seem a good choice to launch Pfander’s Favorite Films. Her collection has drawers of Italian and French movies, including plenty of the Fellini and Truffaut movies that first drew her into what has become a lifelong passion.

“I really got into foreign films when I was living and studying in New York City in the mid-‘60s,” she said, telling a story about weeping inconsolably at the end of “King & Country” (1964, UK) at the old Bleecker Street Cinema … the first half of a heart-rending double feature. Which is not to say her Favorites don’t include comedies or films made in America. She is a particular fan of the witty Hollywood output of the 1930s and ‘40s.

“But there are very few contemporary American films I’m interested in. A lot of them are cartoon strips, exceedingly violent and crass, with no character development or narrative,” she said.

A film doesn’t have to be great to be enjoyable, she added, pulling “Blast from the Past” (1999, USA) down from a shelf.

“My twin sister, who lives on the West Coast, gave this to me. It’s not a great film but it’s truly charming. Movies need to be more than fluff and absolute silliness … they need to be something that moves you. I’m 75! I put aside my silliness 65 years ago,” she said.

Playfulness is another matter, something Pfander clearly has held onto. Her soon-to-be-6-year-old grandson visits every other weekend, and their time together includes watching silent film comedians, practicing bird calls and pretending to be meerkats. On a recent visit, he asked if he could order a few things from one of her movie catalogs, choosing Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton films and a Spike Jones TV show. Catalogs catering to movie collectors are just one of the ways Pfander acquires her Favorites, always as affordably as she can.

“The VHSes I got from stores selling out, and I get a lot of DVDs from the sales at Harbor Audio Video,” she said.

A film she is showing in Thomaston later this month — “Love Me Tonight” (1932, USA) — is something she just recently got around to watching, after having seen it dubbed “the greatest musical ever made” in video guide after video guide. Sometimes friends lend her movies that she then may look to add to her collection. One that has eluded her grasp thus far is “Tosca’s Kiss,” a 1984 documentary from Switzerland.

“Marti [Reed] lent it to me years ago and it really is a wonderful film, most unusual,” Pfander said.

She said she has found the old VHS format to be superior to DVD in some respects, saying most have held up well, in contrast to DVDs that occasionally start skipping on first view. The sound also seems to be more reliable, especially in Thomaston Public Library’s Room 200.

“I always keep extra things. I have three phonographs with three speeds, old cassette players and cassettes, a few VHS players,” she said.

In addition to piles of books and storage drawers of movies, Pfander’s home is wallpapered with photographs of faces both famous and family, local and international; and posters for music and theater events. The latter include those for Chamber Theatre of Maine productions — Pfander was CTM’s director for many years, directing such little-seen-in-these-parts works as "Happy Days" by Samuel Beckett, Athol Fugard’s “The Road to Mecca” and “The Music Box Bird,” a never-published play by May Sarton.

“It has to be fine work. That’s how I chose the plays for the theater and it’s the same thing with my films,” she said.

Pfander said sometimes people tell her they like to watch a movie “to space out,” an approach she frankly does not understand.

“You only have one life! Why would you waste a single minute of that on something that’s not enlarging you … I want things that lift me up in my heart, my mind and my spirit,” she said.

The Pfander’s Favorite Films series is set for the fourth Thursday of the month through this year at Rockland Public Library, 80 Union St.; for handicapped accommodations, giving 48 hours' notice by calling 594-0310 is encouraged. Thomaston Public Library’s Friday Night Films series is ongoing in the Thomaston Academy building, 60 Main St./Route 1. Winter start times are 6 p.m. in Rockland, 6:30 p.m. in Thomaston. For more information about the films scheduled, see the links below.