New York Film Festival uses drive-ins to bring films to the masses


NEW YORK CITY (WABC) – The New York Film Festival is normally held at Lincoln Center, but this year, like so many other events, it is going virtual amid the coronavirus pandemic. Yet organizers have also found a way to show some of the movies to hundreds of people at once, in drive-in theaters.Call it a back to the future approach, a retro way of showing films that started to die out over half a century ago.RELATED: New York Film Festival Sticks To Its Main Mission Despite Coronavirus Pandemic Changes

Some say the first drive-in theater was located in New Jersey and there was one in the Bronx until the 1980s. But with real estate being as valuable as it is, theaters that require acres of land were simply not economically feasible.

So where there used to be a lot, now there is very little. However, the long drive-in twilight has given way to a new dawn due to COVID-19, which has closed all indoor movie theaters.

“We’re so excited to be in the drive-ins this year,” said NYFF director Eugene Hernandez. “We can’t gather in droves in theaters right now, but we can get together in small groups in a car or in our living room. ”

The 58th annual event has a full list of films available on a virtual platform at, but log onto the festival site and you’ll also find a schedule of films to show outdoors in Queens, Brooklyn. and the Bronx.

They are presented in partnership with Rooftop Films, and the president of the nonprofit, Dan Nuxoll, has decades of experience showing films outdoors – so the drive-in approach came naturally. for him and his team.

“There are 6 feet between each car,” he says. “So there’s really no way to spread germs to other people around. ”

Who knew the drive-in would experience this kind of revival? Not Nuxoll.

“Did I ever think it would come back like this?” No, ”he said.

Related: SummerStage Annual Jubilee Goes Virtual Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

But social distancing has become so important that drive-ins have another moment, brought to life by those who know how special these nights can be.

“You’re in this closed environment, almost like you’re in your living room with your friends, but you’re also in a big crowd of maybe 800 people watching this movie all together,” Nuxoll said.

The New York Film Festival runs until October 11.

WABC-TV is a proud media sponsor of the event, and tickets for many events are still available.

Click here for more information.

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