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Drive-in film festival comes to small Kansas town

Published on -8/19/2012, 3:07 PM

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KANOPOLIS, Kan. (AP) -- A New York woman who has a passion for drive-in theaters is bringing an old-time event to Kansas, where patrons will be able to enjoy a small film festival with two independent films, carnival games and raffles.

The Kanopolis Drive-In will host the festival Aug. 25, as part of a nonprofit group's effort to bring independent and classic films, along with more patrons, to drive-ins around the country. The group, called Drive-In Film Festival, has been organizing similar events for the past five years.

The group's founder, C.C. Webster, said she's driven by her fond memories of going to movies at drive-ins and sadness that many outdoor venues are closing because of financial trouble and the rise of the video industry, The Salina Journal reported (http://bit.ly/ssNwtF).

"Indoor movie theaters are more like a church, a sanctuary where you have to be quiet," said Webster, who is a writer and commercial filmmaker. "A drive-in is like a big party, where you can celebrate in a different way."

Webster also thinks it's important to bring movies to small towns such as Kanopolis, which has a population of about 500, and to help the owners of drive-ins.

"When talking to drive-in owners, they told me how difficult it was to stay open, to keep the land and to compete with multiplexes," she said. "Through being a filmmaker in New York, I have connections to wonderful films. I wanted to bring these films to drive-ins and make it a fundraiser for the drive-in, to give them a boost."

Webster has screened films at drive-ins in Michigan, New York State, New Jersey and Delaware.

The first film at the Kanopolis festival is the silent comedy classic "Safety Last," starring comedian Harold Lloyd. The second, "Not Waving but Drowning," is an independent film about two high school friends who go their separate ways during a summer.

Those films will be followed by two first-run films that Kanopolis Drive-In owner Josh Webb has booked for the weekend, including "The Expendables 2." Regular admission will be charged, with all profits going to the Kanopolis Drive-In.

Webster's expenses are paid through donations made through the website kickstarter.com, which is where Webb found out about Drive-In Film Festival.

"I saw the other drive-ins they'd been to and knew if they could get here, they could help us out," he said.

The Kanopolis Drive-In, which is open May through December, can fit about 160 cars. Webb said keeping it running is a financial challenge, and the film festival will help.

"It helps independent films, it's good for the industry, and it will help create jobs," he said.

After Kanopolis, the next festival is scheduled to be held at Delsea Drive-In in Vineland, N.J., on Sept. 15.

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