Baltimore, Maryland: Watch Movies Under the Stars at Free Outdoor Film Festivals

Watch Movies Under The Stars at Free Outdoor Film Festivals

Outdoor Movies in Baltimore, MarylandFor a city with only four operating movie theaters, Baltimore sure goes movie crazy every summer, with nearly a dozen free outdoor film festivals scattered throughout the region. The outdoor movie season unofficially kicks off June 6, when the musical version of "Hairspray" will be shown at the Village of Cross Keys. The city-wide outdoor-movie mania really picks up in July, with films being shown on lakefronts and in city parks, near monuments and alongside office plazas, from Little Italy to Columbia. "There's something about being under the stars, with other people devoted to fun and city life, that is just really refreshing," says Rebecca Hoffberger, founder and director of the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM), which on July 2 kicks off its fifth annual Flicks From the Hill, offering movies visible from South Baltimore's Federal Hill. There's certainly a communal charm to be found at these moviegoing equivalents of a family picnic. Families bring their lawn chairs or blankets, scoping out the landscape carefully for the best viewing spot. In Little Italy, where the corner of High and Stiles streets is turned into a theater on Friday evenings through July and August, people start showing up hours beforehand to stake their claim. At Hopkins, the party atmosphere includes live music and food. "The community relationship is really important," says Megan Isennock, in her first year of programming the Hopkins series. "It's a really great way for everyone in the community to get together." While the offerings are almost always family-friendly -- nobody wants impressionable eyes to see something they shouldn't -- they're also reasonably eclectic. Little Italy's Open-Air Film Festival, in its 11th year, offers movies with an Italian flavor, by tradition and popular demand opening with "Moonstruck" and ending with the irresistible "Cinema Paradiso." "Obviously, these movies that we are running, you can rent them and stay in your home and watch them," says Mary Ann Cricchio, owner of DaMimmo restaurant and president of the Little Italy Restaurant Association. "But here, you come to a neighborhood, and you watch them in the company of other people. They eat, they dance, and then they watch the movie." AVAM's schedule tends to be more free-spirited and funky, this year spotlighting films chosen with the museum's "Marriage of Art, Science & Philosophy" exhibition in mind. AVAM's first offering? "Raiders of the Lost Ark," on July 2. "One slip of the tongue [can] knock a movie off the schedule," says Hoffberger. "Even 'E.T.' has profanity in it." Over at Clifton Park and Lake Montebello, programmer Mark Washington is spanning the entire history of cinema for the third annual series sponsored by the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello Community Corporation. This year's series runs the chronological gamut from Charlie Chaplin's 1921 " The Kid" (Aug. 7 at Lake Montebello) to 2008's " The Express," based on the life of Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis (July 10 at Clifton Park). "We not only wanted to entertain, but we wanted to inform, and expose residents to film genres they might not be familiar with," says Washington, who has been programming the series since it began in 2006 and usually attract crowds of about 75 people. "I think people often underestimate the urban audience. Most people think, if it's not cartoonish or action-oriented, if it's not some hip-hop generated film, then there's no audience there. I happen to think they're wrong." On screen this summer A sampling of the Baltimore area's free outdoor film series: • Moviefest, Saturdays, June 6-June 27, Village of Cross Keys, villageofcrosskeys.com • Hopkins Summer Outdoor Films series, Fridays, June 12-July 24, Johns Hopkins University campus, 3400 N. Charles St. jhu.edu/summer/films/ or 410-516-4548 • Columbia Lakefront Festival, Fridays and Mondays, June 19-July 3, on the lakefront off Little Patuxent Parkway, lakefrontfestival.com • Center Plaza Film Series, Wednesdays, July 1-Aug. 19, Charles and Fayette streets, godowntownbaltimore.com or 410-244-1030 • Films on the Pier, Wednesdays, July 1-Aug. 19, Broadway Pier in Fells Point, cdjoint.com/filmsonthepier.cfm • Flicks From the Hill, Thursdays, July 2-Aug. 13, American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Hwy., avam.org or 410-244-1900 • Little Italy Open-Air Film Festival, Fridays, July 3-August 28, corner of High and Stiles streets, littleitalymd.com • Clifton Park and Lake Montebello film series, Fridays, July 10-Aug. 14, Clifton Park Band Shell, off St. Lo Drive, and Lake Montebello, 410-366-2222 • Main Street Movie Series, Saturdays, July 18-Aug. 29, 2 Trading Place in Dundalk, 410-282-0261 n Little Italy, where the corner of High and Stiles streets is turned into a theater on Friday evenings through July and August, people start showing up hours beforehand to stake their claim. At Hopkins, the party atmosphere includes live music and food. "The community relationship is really important," says Megan Isennock, in her first year of programming the Hopkins series. "It's a really great way for everyone in the community to get together." By Chris Kaltenbach Source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/movies/bal-outdoor-movies-0604,0,1292637.story

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