Every year here in Chicago I attend a knockout horror convention called FLASHBACK WEEKEND. It isn't just a place for folks to get drunk and have stuff signed. The film lineup is always stellar, the guest list is a surprising mix and the feel of it is very laid back. Everybody talks to everybody else and is there to have fun rather than one up or impress each other. It's been going on about 11 or 12 years and is run by this great couple named Mike and Mia Kurz. For awhile they even did an impromptu 35mm drive in at the actual con in the hotel parking lot but that got too expensive.
Instead they did something crazy, stupid, wonderful.
They bought an actual failed drive-in, the MIDWAY, in Sterling Illinois. They rehabbed it, then purchased the land, and ran it like champs for a number of years. No problem. Flashback helped support the project and it seemed like a match made in heaven.
Now they are facing extinction because they need $120,000 to get a digital projection system as studios phase out the use of prints.
This is the story all over of course. Drive-ins are dying. Drive-ins. Places where people first discovered and then learned to treasure the early output of people like George Romero and Tobe Hooper. Drive-ins. The closest a lot of folks in the midwest were ever able to get to 42nd street.
Just a business model gone bad? I don't think so. It's a fading piece of Americana, where childhood memories of watching movies, as kids played out against a backdrop that involved families, dating, eating, and being wowed by great cinema.
Help Me Save One.
VOTE TWICE EACH DAY FOR THE MIDWAY DRIVE-IN TO WIN A DIGITAL PROJECTOR AT HONDA'S PROJECT DRIVE-IN
Once per day by texting "Vote80" to 444999.
By the way. I spoke to Mike. If they win the projector they still going to keep their 35mm. These are folks dedicated to preserving cinematic heritage and they've put everything on the line to do so.
Got a minute and half each day to help them out?
Voting ends Sept. 9
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