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Monday, April 23, 2007

Trraveling cineplex celebrates five years

Front page in the Sentinel. With a bunch of photos as well. (I hear that at most newspaper boxes today, they are having a special in which for two quarters you can take as many newspapers as you need.)

A free, renegade taste of Hollywood: Guerilla Drive-In marks 5-year anniversary

Santa Cruz

SANTA CRUZ — High school chemistry teacher Stacey Falls is a regular at the under-the-radar showings of free movies every other Friday at various secret spots across the city.

Known as the Guerilla Drive-In, the movable cineplex celebrated its fifth anniversary Friday by showing "Dr. Strangelove" to a small crowd gathered in an empty field on Dubois Street in the Harvey West neighborhood just after the sun set.

"We're taking space not being used for anything else and turning it into community space," said Falls, 29. "It's just cool because it feels like a cross section of the community comes together, and it doesn't involve paying to be some place"

The renegade Guerilla Drive-In operates without permission from city officials, and is known for showing subversive short films — "The Coconut Revolution," "The Take" and "The Yes Man" — as well as widely known movies such as "Run Lola Run," "Dirty Dancing," "Fight Club" and "Amelie"

The movies play in unlikely spots, like the side of an industrial building or on an embankment beneath a bridge. Guerilla Drive-Ins are popping up in cities such as San Francisco, Berkeley, Dallas, New York and Minneapolis.

On Friday night, moviegoers sat on blankets and huddled together on the weed-covered ground as "Dr. Strangelove" was projected onto the side of a cinderblock industrial building.

For Jeff Zorrilla and girlfriend Stephanie Guest, UC Santa Cruz students, the outdoor movie was "a mix of camping with watching movies"

"It seems more like a party than what you get at a movie theater," Zorrilla said. "I like 'Dr. Strangelove' and I like being outdoors"

Friday's guerilla showing was the first for both Zorilla and Guest.

"It seems like more of an experience than going to see it at a movie theater," Guest said.

Movies are played every other week year-round, though popularity picks up during the summer when the evening weather stays warmer, Falls said.

Some shows attract more than 100 people, she said.

Event organizers say they're driven to provide free entertainment for the community, despite breaking city rules by not obtaining a permit.

Paying $9 for a movie, they say, is absurd, and there should be other options for getting a taste of Hollywood.

"In our fair city, a community focused on art and connection, there is no place to meet in public that is unmediated by commerce," the Guerilla Drive-In Web site said. "All the parks, beaches, the wharf, the Boardwalk, the levees, state parks, the university, and the Pogonip are all closed after dark. If you want to meet friends or strangers at night, your only option is to dive into the stream of commerce, bars, cafes, restaurants, or movies"

The Santa Cruz Police Department said that while the drive-in organizers are violating several municipal codes when hosting an outdoor movie without a city permit, the gatherings have not caused major problems during the past five years.

The group was forced to move from under the Soquel Avenue bridge two years ago, and in downtown showings, police have tried unsuccessfully to shut off the movies.

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