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Boulder gets two pop-up drive-in movie theaters thanks to the Dairy and BIFF

Enjoy classics and new cinematic offerings under the stars

A still of Buddy Guy from the film “Two Trains Runnin.’” The Grammy-nominated documentary will be shown on Saturday, June 20, at BIFF Drive-In at Boulder Municipal Airport. The Dairy Arts Center has also added a drive-in to its parking lot and Friday and Saturday’s screenings of “Fantastic Fungi” have already sold out. (Avalon Films/Cargo Releasing/ Courtesy photo)
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With its 60-seat Boedecker Theater temporarily closed due to the pandemic, the Dairy Arts Center, at 2590 Walnut St., has innovatively found a way to continue to show films in its parking lot. Boulder International Film Festival has also stepped up to add to social distance entertainment with a drive-in theater at Boulder Municipal Airport, 3327 Airport Road. The Dairy’s showings kick off Friday, while BIFF’s will start June 20.

The Dairy Arts Center will show drive-in movies every Friday and Saturday throughout the summer in its parking lot. (Daily Camera file photo)

“We do hope to have drive-in movies every Friday and Saturday night through the summer,” said Glenn Webb, director of programs for the Dairy. “It will probably be mostly repertory content, which is to say ‘classic’ movies. There will be occasional documentaries. For the most part, we will keep the virtual cinema offerings separate from the drive-in.”

While Friday and Saturday showings of “Fantastic Fungi: The Magic Beneath Us” have already sold out, tickets for next Friday and Saturday’s “Seasons”— a film brimming with breathtaking scenes of wildlife among lush landscapes — are still available.

“The projection will be on the back west wall of the building, not on the north wall, so there won’t be a screen over a mural,” Webb said. “We hope to start selling concessions at some point, but to keep things simple at first and minimize folks being out of their vehicles, we are encouraging them to bring their own.”

Tickets are $20 per car and are available to purchase online. The movie will start when it gets dark enough. Ticketholders are encouraged to arrive between 8:00 to 8:30 p.m.

“What I learned from our trial runs, and what I had forgotten about drive-in movies, was that the setting is not exactly conducive to our normal art-house cinema experience,” Webb said. “In the Boedecker Theater we are used to a high standard for sound and image. We cannot replicate this outdoors, with all the variables outside our control. So, the programming will shift a bit to more fun and popular offerings.”

The audio will be broadcast via FM radio, which moviegoers will need to have in their vehicles.  Folks are encouraged to check the Dairy’s website as new films are added.

“This is not meant to replace the cinema program that has become home to a community of film lovers in Boulder, but rather to give folks something fun and nostalgic to enjoy for the time being and remind folks that although the Dairy may be somewhat dormant, it is ready to burst back into life with the right conditions and bring our community together through the arts, as it has always done,” Webb said

For sisters Kathy and Robin Beeck, founders of Boulder International Film Festival, bringing a drive-in theater back to their hometown is all about reviving “the good ol’ days.”

From left, Boulder International Film Festival organizers Kathy Beeck and Robin Beeck pose for a portrait at the Boulder Theater on Feb. 24, 2020. The sisters have partnered with the City of Boulder to bring a BIFF Drive-In to Boulder Municipal Airport. The first showing will take place June 20 at around 8:45 p.m. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

“Kathy and I worked at movie theaters in town in the early ‘80s which got you free admission to all the theaters, except for the Holiday Drive-In,” said Robin Beeck. “I had just gotten my driver’s license, so grabbed my folks’ car and stuffed three friends in the trunk — cars were much bigger in the ‘80s. For some reason, I pulled up right by the concession stand and popped the trunk right there to let them out. The manager of the drive-in saw it all unfold and we learned a valuable lesson —don’t let your friends out of your trunk right by the concession stand.”

The BIFF Drive-In will be held every Saturday at the Boulder Municipal Airport. Films will be projected onto a 40-foot screen. Current capacity consists of 160 socially-distanced cars to start. The Beecks hope to be able to add more vehicles later on.

“If you had asked us at BIFF 2020, in March, if we would start a pop-up drive-in, in Boulder, we would have laughed,” said Robin Beeck, who is presenting the new series in partnership with the City of Boulder. “But the past three months have been challenging for everybody in so many ways. This is an opportunity to bring people together for that shared movie experience, with little risk.”

Movie buffs can expect a variety of options similar to the caliber of selections screened at the spring festival.

“We’ll have a stellar lineup which will bring back some of the best films from past BIFFs — a few classics and newer films that haven’t yet been shown on the big screen in Boulder,” said Kathy Beeck. “Our enthusiastic Boulder audiences are well-known by those in the film industry who’ve attended BIFF and, partly because of that, we’ve created a great network of talented filmmakers and distributors who love BIFF and want to get their films out to our audiences.”

The first film of the series, showing June 20, will be the 2018 Grammy-nominated documentary “Two Trains Runnin’” that features interviews and performances by Gary Clark Jr., Buddy Guy, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Valerie June, North Mississippi All-Stars and Lucinda Williams.

A photo of musicians Son House and Skip James by Dick Waterman can be seen in the documentary “Two Trains Runnin.’” The film will be screened on June 20 as part of the BIFF Drive-In at Boulder Municipal Airport. (Avalon Films/Cargo Releasing/Courtesy Photo)

“It tells the story of the convergence of blues music and civil rights during the Freedom Summer of 1964, a convergence which led directly to the Civil Rights Act and also launched a resurrection of some of the greatest American music of all time,” Kathy said.“The film is directed by Black filmmaker Sam Pollard and is narrated by Common. It’s also very entertaining. We think with the topics of civil rights, voting rights and great music it’s perfect to open the BIFF Drive-In.”

Tickets for the film, that are $25 per car, go on sale Friday and can be purchased at biff1.com.

“We believe in the power of film to change the world and that’s vital right now more than ever,” Kathy said.

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