Cinema under the stars

Gilroy Arts Alliance recreates small town nostalgia

MOONLIT MOVIE Gilroy Arts Alliance hosts Free Family Outdoor Movie Nights, Fridays through August 11 at the Gilroy Center for the Arts, 7341 Monterey Street.
Free Family Outdoor Movie Nights return for the fifth year to the Gilroy Center for the Arts, bringing small town nostalgia to summertime in South Valley.

This event started in 2013, when Gilroy Arts Alliance (GAA) board members served on the Gilroy Arts and Culture Commission (ACC). Originally set up for one night, the movie was projected on a big wall at the Gilroy Center for the Arts with equipment provided and operated by city staff. The event increased to three nights in 2016 when GAA managed the event with help from ACC volunteers and used equipment from local movie company 152 West Productions.

“Many of us remember drive-in movies as kids,” says Kevin Heath, executive director of the Gilroy Center for the Arts and the GAA, “we wanted to bring that atmosphere to downtown Gilroy with a family environment.”

This year GAA expanded the event to five nights and was able to purchase all new equipment. Series Partner Gilroy Foundation and sponsors including Gilroy Downtown Business Association, Gilroy Dispatch, 152 West Productions and Marie Studios/Marianne Eichenbaum also join the event. “It should be a wonderful opportunity for families to enjoy some old-fashioned Friday night fun. We are proud to be able to support it.” says Donna Pray, Gilroy Foundation Executive Director.
Heath expressed his gratitude for the Gilroy Foundation, the event sponsors and the generosity and commitment from the community that is allowing this event to remain free, stating that the GAA is honored to partner with them.
When selecting the films to be shown, organizers sought themes like courage, culture, bullying, self expression and positive self image; choosing several films that are not likely to be on every family’s screens. For example, the final film of the event, 152 West Productions’, “Broadway Movie Musical,” stars local children from Morgan Hill and Gilroy in an original piece recreating Broadway’s greatest moments on film.
Each year the Gilroy Center for the Arts offers Summer of Art Classes, including a Youth Video Class which concludes with a student produced short film. As a special bonus, each Movie Night will begin with the presentation of one of these films, “It’s really heartwarming to hear children on the lawn yell ‘That’s me!’ when they see themselves on the big screen,” says Heath.
Attendees are encouraged to bring their own blankets, chairs and picnic dinners—remembering that alcohol is not allowed at the event. Concessions will be offered for purchase, and crafts and art activities will be available for the kids before each film.
Heath describes the event as a fun night out, even if you don’t have kids, where the energy is positive and welcoming. “Part of the idea was to maintain a sense of small town Americana,” says Heath, “Create an opportunity for families to come together, enjoy their time and put down the phones and tablets.”
Movies begin at dusk, Fridays through August 11 at the Gilroy Center for the Arts, 7341 Monterey Street. For more information, schedule and movie trailers visit:

Tia Sundberg
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Tia Sundberg is a crafting diva, knitter, Halloween fanatic and freelance writer for South Valley magazine.