Brooklynites looking to catch the latest and greatest of the big screen are in luck, as the 58th annual New York Film Festival will come to Sunset Park on Sept. 17 — bringing three weeks of drive-in movies, documentaries, shorts, and historic films to the Brooklyn Army Terminal, said the festival’s organizer.
“[We thought about] how do we invite and engage both a new generation of New Yorkers, but also how do we engage with parts of the city and citizens of New York who might not have otherwise felt welcome or invited or known about it,” said Eugene Hernandez, the festival’s deputy director.
The usually Manhattan-centric festival, which has been hosted at Lincoln Center for nearly six decades, will partner with Rooftop Films to bring the silver screen to film buffs at drive-ins in Sunset Park and Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, along with virtual showings available nationwide.
Hernandez said he’d been hoping to expand the film bash beyond Manhattan even before the pandemic, inspired by past efforts to bring new movies to communities beyond the distant isle — including when the organization’s predecessor, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, hosted outdoor screenings at parks around the five boroughs in the 1970s.
“I’ve heard stories from [a longtime Lincoln Center board member] about how, she would say, ‘a bunch of hippies getting into a van, and driving projectors around the city,’” Hernandez said.
Rooftop Film has been hosting drive-in screenings all summer, with measures like social distancing, regular cleaning, and contact-free check-in that provide a safe movie-going experience in the age of COVID-19, said Hernandez.
The car-borne entertainment also offers a healthy dose of nostalgia, especially against the backdrop of the Brooklyn waterfront, said the organizer.
“For me it brought back those kinds of very warm and positive memories, drive-ins were a fun and memorable activity that imprinted on my early childhood,” Hernandez said.
New York Film Festival at Brooklyn Army Terminal, [80 58th St., at First Avenue in Sunset Park, www.filmlinc.org]. Sept. 17–Oct. 11. Most drive-in screenings begin at 8 pm, doors at 7 pm. $45 per car for drive-in, virtual showings start at $12. Tickets go on sale Sept. 11 at 2 pm.