Experience the 50s as Drive-In Theaters Return to Hawai’i

Akira Pescador, Reporter

     From October 29 to November 22, 2020, the Hawai’i International Film Festival (HIFF) hosted numerous drive-in theater events at the Ala Moana shopping center, allowing many to leave the confinement of their homes while remaining socially distanced. As of recent, HIFF will continue to screen Christmas-themed movies through December 17 and 18, 2020. The 1950s trend of drive-in theaters is seeing a revival in Hawai’i amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

     “I think it would be really cool because one, more people will get to experience it, and two, with COVID-19 and the pandemic, it could allow people to go out and see movies without having to be in contact with other people,” sophomore Jada Harris said. 

     HIFF is one of many drive-in theater movie hosts in Hawai’i, featuring works from local filmmakers and college students. The main focus of HIFF is to accurately portray local Hawaiian and Asian culture in their movies, as opposed to films containing insensitive cultural inaccuracies. Such films featured by HIFF included Lumpia With a Vengeance and The Girl Who Left Home. HIFF also plans to screen movies for the upcoming holiday season, including Die Hard and Christmas classics like Elf.

     “I’d say that it’s a more fun experience because you can be a little bit louder since you’re outside, and you can bring your own snacks.” sophomore Ezra Burton said. 

     Burton attended his first drive-in theater with his family in October and was surprised upon learning that such events were hosted in Hawai’i. With these screenings being held outside, attendees were not required to follow the strict rules of a normal theater, allowing people to be more comfortable in their viewing experience. Unlike normal indoor screenings, movie viewers are able to hold a conversation without interrupting the film for others, some drive-in theatres allow people to bring their own food, and viewers have more space in their car than normal theater seats. However, Burton mentions that the one downside of drive-in theaters is the lack of immersiveness due to the outdoor nature of the event. 

     “There was a big projector outside, and then everybody, a whole bunch of people rolled up to the gates and gave tickets to the guy. Then we just went into the parking lot and just watched from the projector,” said Burton.  

     In comparison to how drive-in theaters are shown in traditional movies, many remained outside of their cars while watching the movie. Of course, social distancing measures still applied throughout the entire event, as automobiles were parked 6 feet apart and masks were required upon exiting the vehicle.

     “I personally liked the experience more, I think it’s more about the experience (than the movie),” said Burton.

     For more information about the Hawai’i International Film Festival organization, their upcoming movie schedule, and public safety guidelines during events, visit hiff.org