Daniel Blum fondly remembers what it was like to go to the drive-in on Friday nights the sky, the stars, the awkward advance toward his date in the passenger seat. And though D.C. isn’t exactly a drive-in kind of town, Blum, who lives in Mount Pleasant, is trying to bring back that all-but-extinct form of Americana. Last Saturday, he kicked off Mount Pleasant Movies and Arts, his tribute to the drive-in, with an open-air movie among the totems and colored tiles of little Lamont Park on Mount Pleasant Street NW.
Blum shopped the idea around and found more than 100 people who said they’d like to go to an outdoor movie. But finding the right movie was a problem: When he started scouting for film ideas, he found that most big crowd-pleasers were too costly for his small budget. Plus, the neighborhood is largely Latino, so he figured a film in Spanish with English subtitles would be best. His first several choices, however, were out of the question. “They had too much sex and nudity,” Blum says. “I normally don’t have a problem with that, but not for out-door showing.”
Finally, Blum decided on El Super, a 1979 film about a Cuban family trying to survive life in fast-paced New York, directed by Leon Ichaso and Orlando Jimenez Leal. After securing the rights to the film and paying the $200 rental fee, Blum and several volunteers quickly set to organizing the rest of the event posting 300 flyers around the neighborhood. “Because it took so long to get the film, we only had six days to do everything else,” Blum says. “Next time, I won’t set the date until the film is confirmed.”
Despite the time crunch, Blum & Co. managed to put on a good show complete with an intermission (between reels) and $1 popcorn. Most of the 80 chairs he rented were occupied, but a good number of folks skimping on the $2 donation watched from the concrete blocks surrounding the park.
“I was having dinner at Corado’s across the street,” says Jorge Granados, who lives in Columbia Heights, “but when I heard that [the movie] was bilingual and about Cubans, I decided to stop and check it out.” A Mount Pleasant neighbor named Rita, out walking her dog, says she liked the idea but wasn’t crazy about the movie. “They need something more popular,” she suggests. “I might not have come for the film alone.”
Blum is waiting to hear what the rest of Mt. Pleasant thought before planning the next showing, but he says he is happy with the turnout. “I didn’t know many people there,” he said. “But that could be a good thing.” —Frappa Stout