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Portsmouth’s Glen Park to serve as drive-in movie theater June 25

newportFILM gets council’s approval for documentary film


PORTSMOUTH — Later this month, movie-lovers will be able to watch a film at Glen Park without ever having to leave the comfort of their cars.

newportFILM received unanimous permission from the Town Council Monday night to host a drive-in movie night at the town-owned property on Thursday, June 25.

“newportFILM is planning a series of drive-in documentary film screenings across Aquidneck Island,” said Becca Bertrand, executive director of the nonprofit. “We hope to screen two new documentary films per month through October 2020 at public and private venues in Portsmouth, Middletown and Newport. We're working closely with the Department of Business Regulations and local government to produce socially distanced events that still allow us to bring the community together around film.”

Rep. Terri Cortvriend said she reached out to Ms. Bertrand after a suggestion from council member Daniela Abbott about holding a drive-in event in Portsmouth.

“I think it’s an awesome idea and a great way to bring our community together,” Ms. Abbott said.

Ms. Bertrand said the film is a Patagonia documentary called “Public Trust,” which is about America’s system of public lands and the fight to keep them. “So it’s fitting,” she said, noting that the movie will be screened in a public park.

The film will begin shortly after sunset (8:23 p.m.) and will be projected onto a 40-foot inflatable screen, with sound coming from speakers in front of the screen as well as through an FM transmitter to car radios, according to plans submitted by newportFILM.

The screen will be located at the bottom of the pasture on the southern end of the park. A graphic provided to the council showed eight rows of cars located south of the Davidson softball field. The plans call for six feet between vehicles, and a 20-foot gap between rows. 

(After Ms. Bertrand left the Zoom meeting following the council’s vote, Director of Public Works Brian Woodhead said he would like to see cars parked further away from the property’s sheep shed. Mr. Woodhead said he’d contact Ms. Bertrand so some minor modifications could be made to the parking scheme.)

The event will be limited to 100 cars. All attendees must RSVP through and provide contact information for contact tracing. “We’re going to make sure all attendees are pre-registered,” said Ms. Bertrand.

Portable restrooms will be available, and attendees must wait six feet apart to use them. An attendant from Hallman’s Restrooms will sanitize after each use, according to newportFILM.

The food vendor, A Mano Pizza, will be asked to either deliver food to cars or through their takeout window without making physical contact with attendees. When ordering from a food vendor, all attendees will be encouraged to call ahead or use a mobile phone app.

Attendees may watch the movie from inside their car with the windows up; or from inside a car with the windows down, from a truck bed, or directly in front of their cars while wearing cloth face coverings.

The event is free of charge, although there is a $10 suggested donation at the time of reservation.

“We’re pretty experience at doing drive-ins; we’ve done about one per year,” Ms. Bertrand said.

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