Tracey Tong/metro ottawa
Every summer, I’m torn between all the entertainment options the city has to offer.
Although few things beat inhaling a bucket of popcorn in front of the latest blockbuster in an air-conditioned theatre, part of me feels I’m better off taking advantage of the long days and balmy weather.
The Centretown Movies Outdoor Film Festival, which kicked off its seventh season on the weekend at Dundonald Park, takes away the pain of indecision by giving you the best of both worlds.
The group formed in 2001, after its founding members decided the area could benefit from some affordable entertainment.
“We all really liked the idea of a drive-in theatre,” said Centretown Movies volunteer Daphne Guerrero. “But there aren’t any drive-ins in Ottawa.
“It’s really important to have affordable entertainment downtown because there’s such a range of people downtown,” Guerrero said. “We get a lot of families with young children, university students, young professionals, seniors, even tourists.”
A ‘pay-what-you-can’ admission fee gets you a view of the 10-by-17 foot screen. Between 150 and 200 people attend each screening. And this year’s lineup features a variety of genres.
“We always show a family movie,” she said. “This year’s is Shrek. Science fiction is popular too. Movies that do really well at festivals tend to do well here, so this year we have Little Miss Sunshine.”
Other movies on this year’s schedule include The Wooden Camera, Water, Casablanca and An Inconvenient Truth.
The outdoor film idea has caught on with other groups, which have started events in Westboro and Hintonburg.
Longtime moviegoer Annie Landry has been attending screenings since 2001, but decided to volunteer this year. “It’s nice to do something outdoor in the middle of the city.”
“It’s a cool idea,” agreed Ottawa resident Armand Doucet.
Armed with bug spray and popcorn, Doucet attended the screening of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan with his wife, Vicki, and son, Michael, 7, on the weekend.
“It’s more practical than a drive-in,” he said.
“I think there’s something really special about sitting out under the stars, watching a movie,” said Guerrero. “You’re outdoors in the fresh air and it’s a communal experience. You don’t get the same feeling in a theatre, where the theatre is so dark that you can barely see the person next to you.”
Movies screen Fridays and Saturdays at 9 p.m., through August 25.
Look for Metro reporter Tracey Tong’s Cityscapes column every Wednesday.