“You can’t walk out of a drive-in!”

Danny Zuko, T-Bird, Rydell High Greaser Gang

Zuko was right, even though Sandy, who he just asked to go steady, had other intentions. However, you can walk out of your home, hop in your car, and pull into a drive-in cinema. To escape the feeling of being cornered by Covid-19, The Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) in partnership with Pier Sixty-Six Hotel and Marina, has the place and space for you to enjoy a night on the town at their drive-in cinema. Families, couples, and friends watched (and participated) with the Grease Sing-Along last Friday night.

          Prior to the movie, attendees had the opportunity to check out vintage cars similar to the ones in Grease. These cool classics were from Russ G Events & Classic Cars. Plenty of people were admiring Russ’s 1951 Kustom Merk Leadsled showcased next to the movie screen, and Eric Fernon’s 1962 Volkswagen Beetle near the concession area.

Russ G & Eric Fernon

          In the concession area, FLIFF provided all those in need of popcorn, candy, sodas, and root-beer floats at their booth next to Tornado Food I and II (food trucks). I enjoyed a delicious meal from both food trucks with the temptation of the root-beer float. Everyone had an excellent variety for their choices: typical drive-in gastronomy to hot dogs, nachos, and Mediterranean food.

          After checking out the classic car next to the screen, I observed the exchange of dialogue between the people I mentioned and strangers who were now neighbors for a few hours. This drive-in experience is what people need and want in this dire period of the pandemic. We know this will soon pass. My suggestion about passing some of this time is by attending a drive-in (safe & secure with the mask mandate-when applicable) and holding yourself to one personal mandate: To Enjoy Life. In this time of speed and technology; a time where many are tethered to their phones, the best part about the drive-in movie experience—everyone was looking up and not down. This experience is a refreshing reason to get out and enjoy. The people who I spoke with were happy to be at this event. I had taken several photos for this article, and jokingly told one group wearing a variety of masks, that I needed to take another photo because I wasn’t sure if everyone was smiling—they laughed.

The fact of the matter is that during this capricious and cruel times effecting South Florida in particular, you can read a person’s response by looking at the only exposed part of the face—their eyes. On this night, their eyes were filled with the images from the movie screen. FLIFF and Pier 66 are offering an event for you to leave your home and have a good time. We all need a time like this event, just to exit the news about the toll of terrible cases from this virus. It’s not a ‘new normal,’ it is a choice to change your present routine.

          The partnership between Michelle Filippi, FLIFF’s Executive Director and Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina’s Julien Watterlot, is a beneficial one for our community. FLIFF (a non-for-profit organization) entails Savor Cinema in Ft. Lauderdale and Cinema Paradiso in Hollywood, both are important independent movie theaters that showcase many genres of film. Pier Sixty-Six Hotel and Marina, has been a tourist destination for years and was in the process of redevelopment prior to the pandemic. FLIFF and Pier 66 are facing the same challenges as many businesses because of the Covid-19. The drive-in movie cinema is a great collaboration for both, and once again, for the community.

          The cost to see a movie, with options to purchase a variety of food, plus free parking is $30.00 for General Admission per Carload—that’s a great deal when you consider the cost to be with family and friends is incalculable.           

          I want to thank the following people: Michelle, the FLIFF employees and ground crew who diligently orchestrated the carloads of people. Julien Watterlot for this place and space across from Pier 66 for all to enjoy a night at the movies. And finally, the events Co-Producing Sponsors: Twilight Features and Epic Outdoor Cinema.

 For more information about upcoming movies and memberships, visit: www.FLIFF.com

This review and many other reviews for documentaries and books are available at: www.OrangePostman.com

—Chris Joseph Stancato

 paperback writer and poet

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