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Film Festival Brings The Drive-In Back To D.C.

One of the greatest American traditions of the mid-20th century has essentially disappeared as we’ve moved into the 2000s. What was once a standard weekend activity for young couples, older folks and everyone in between has essentially been lost to the ages.

Except for this weekend.

Because in Rockville, Maryland, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the drive-in movie theater is back.

The revival is the focus of the 17th Annual Comcast Film Festival, which raises money for charities that work with the National Institute of Health.

Nowadays around Washington, D.C., outdoor movie screenings are ubiquitous. But when the festival started, all the way back in 1996, it was one of the first major outdoor screenings in the country.

It’s been growing ever since, eventually bringing in over 10,000 guests a year. Each night the festival will show one movie, with sales from concessions going to charity.

This year, the festival supports three different places. The Children’s Inn, a family residence for pediatric patients; Special Love, a support network for cancer patients and their families; and Friends of the Clinical Center, which provides emergency financial assistance to people in need.

The event was originally held on the grounds of NIH. But after 9/11, when the location was closed to the public, the festival began bopping around Bethesda and the surrounding area, moving to a different location each year.

This year it takes place in Rockville, at the Montgomery County Board of Education. There, the first drive-in this area has seen in quite some time will take a place.

With a giant screen set up on the huge parking lot, cars can arrive as early as 4:30 p.m. for the movies, which start at 8:30. While that may seem like an early time to get there, the festival is not limited to just the movies it’s showing.

Starting off the evenings will be performances by live bands. Meanwhile, some of the area’s best food trucks and restaurants will be around for dinner, with portions of their proceeds going to the NIH charities. Among the many options is Curley’s BBQ, which will serve up chicken, beef and ribs. Sweet and savory crepes will be available from the Holy Crepes Food Truck. And since this is Maryland, on Friday and Saturday, crab cakes will be sold from Go Fish!

As for the movies, this year’s offerings are three contemporary selections, all new takes on classic films and characters. On Friday, the Great and Powerful Oz will play, followed on Saturday by Skyfall, then the Amazing Spiderman will close down the event Sunday night.

But if you aren’t interested in reliving the American tradition of taking in a movie in your automobile, the option to sit outside at the festival is also available. At the front of the screen, spaces are reserved for lawn chairs and blankets.

So whether you’d like to take in an outdoor movie in the typical way, or have some 1950s style fun, the Comcast Film Festival is here, all while helping with a fantastic cause.

– David

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