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The Sound Side Film Festival at Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue. (Credit: Daniel Leinweber, Razberry Photography)

In a year when movie houses, theaters and concert venues across the East End were forced to shut their doors, one nostalgic form of entertainment came to the rescue: All hail the resurrection of the drive-in movie.  

It’s been so long that drive-ins were a thing that many of us were experiencing them for the first time in 2020, or at least for the first time since movies like The Goonies— the 1985 throwback that kicked off the drive-in trend locally at Strawberry Fields in May — were brand new releases.

But we picked up the routine quickly. All summer and into the fall, we tuned the car radio to pipe in the movie audio, put down blankets in hatchbacks and pickup beds, let kids pop out of the sunroof for a better view and passed popcorn from front seat to back. It was a desperately needed, family-friendly way to get out of the house and to safely feel a part of the community again — even more so because several of the events benefitted CAST’s efforts to support North Fork neighbors in need.

Moviegoers enjoy the Sound Side Film Festival. (Credit: Daniel Leinweber, Razberry Photography)

In August, director Alexandra Leinweber’s Wild Jelly productions, the Tribeca Film Institute and CAST organized the Sound Side Film Festival at Peconic Bay Winery, a night of independent shorts exploring filmmakers’ relationship to the North Fork. And in October, the annual North Fork TV Festival transitioned to drive-in format, screening the two winners of its annual competition for the best independent pilot episodes at Castello di Borghese Vineyard.

These innovations showed that the drive-in format had become more than a mere nostalgia-fest, but also a way to celebrate new work and support local creators in a more-than-tough time. May all the arts thrive in 2021.

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