“Blockbuster” describes the movies presented each summer in the Comcast Xfinity Outdoor Film Festival and hosted at Strathmore. This year, “Disney’s “Moana” (PG) will show on Aug. 24; “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (PG-13) on Aug. 25; and “The Lego Batman Movie” (PG) on Aug. 26, the final day of the event.
But the term could also apply to the technology behind the festival. The screen the films are projected on, in digital cinema, is the only nine-foot-tall, 52-foot-wide inflatable movie screen within 1000 miles, said Bob Deutsch, founder and CEO of DTA Global, which produces the free event.
Comcast, the global media and technology corporation, underwrites it.
The Comcast Xfinity Outdoor Film Festival has a lot of history. Founded in 1996, it was the “first major outdoor screening event in the United States,” Deutsch added.
But it is more than mere entertainment. The festival raises funds, through sponsorships and donations, to support the Children’s Charities of National Institutes of Health. The charities include The Children’s Inn, a private residence for pediatric patients and their families; Special Love, which provides cancer families a network of support, including retreats and outings; and Friends of the Patients at the NIH, providing emergency financial assistance for patients and their families.
Deutsch said he came up with the idea to raise money for the Children’s Charities through donations and sponsorships to raise awareness about them. This year, the projection of how much will be raised to benefit NIH is $10,000.
Despite its continuous existence of more than two decades, the festival did not always take place in the same location. It started on the grounds of NIH Charities and remained there until the terrorist attacks on September, 11, 2001, which eliminated public access to the grounds of NIH. After moving around to different venues, the festival has returned “to its most popular location, on the grounds of Strathmore,” said the cultural organization’s president, Monica Jeffries Hazengeles.
The actual movie screenings begin at dusk. But the festival also offers pre-screening activities such as live music, visual art displays and games.
The films are “definitely family-oriented,” said Jeffries Hazengeles. “But overall, we try to have a mix of family, classics, and adventure.”
The film festival represents Strathmore’s encouragement of family time as well as a commitment to the arts, she added. “It’s also a wonderful way for several community entities to come together.”
The only obstacle to the popular free event may be bad weather. If it is severe, it will necessitate the cancellation of that day’s film screening.
You can find weather updates on Strathmore’s Facebook and Twitter platforms.
The film screenings will take place on the lawn near the historic Mansion at Strathmore and Gudelsky Gazebo, located at 10701 Rockville Pike in North Bethesda.
Patrons are welcome to bring picnic blankets, low beach chairs, and small coolers. In addition, Ridgewells summer grill will provide hot popcorn, candy counter favorites, hot dogs, and other snacks. Ice-cold sangria, wine, beer, and soft drinks will also be available.
The film festival is adjacent to the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station on the Red Line; free parking is available in the Metro Garage on Saturdays. Parking on weekdays is $5.10, payable with a credit card or SmarTrip card.
Also continuing at Strathmore through Sept. 9 is another popular series of outdoor activities. “Live from the Lawn” is the organization’s free outdoor concert series.
Strathmore also hosts an annual Uke and Guitar Summit for players of different levels Aug. 19-23.
You can find information about the film festival and other events by visiting www.strathmore.org or by calling 301-581-5100.