For the first time, UCSB presents its film series at drive-in
The Goleta drive-in is a field of dreams.
Especially this summer.
Starting this week, free movies about athletes and overcoming the odds will grace the West Wind Drive-in, a spacious, unpaved lot and popular theater at 907 S. Kellogg Ave. And yes, one of those films is “Field of Dreams” (1989), the mysterious baseball movie starring Carpinteria actor Kevin Costner.
Mr. Costner’s character resurrected baseball legends after learning if “you build it, they will come.” Likewise, UCSB Arts & Lectures realizes that if you show free, great movies, crowds will come.
“Summer Cinema: Game On! Grit, Grace & Glory: Movies Under the Stars in Your Cars” features films on Wednesday nights, from this week through Aug. 19, at the drive-in.
Each Wednesday, the gates will open at 7:30 p.m. with food trucks and concessions. Opening night will feature Dave’s Dogs and McConnell’s Ice Cream.
Films are scheduled for 8:30.
This is the first time the drive-in has served as the location for the summer UCSB series, which usually takes place in the County Courthouse Sunken Garden and UCSB Campbell Hall. Both locations weren’t possible because of COVID-19, but the drive-in has proved ideal for social distancing.
Masks will be required when walking around public areas such as the restrooms, hitting the concessions stand or going to the food truck. People are encouraged to wash their hands, and they’re discouraged from coming if they feel sick.
The drive-in, meanwhile, is a good, nostalgic nod to the American tradition of taking the family together to see a movie under the stars.
“The retro vibe goes hand-in-hand with our theme this year,” said Caitlin O’Hara, UCSB Arts & Lectures senior writer and publicist.
“Imagine pulling your car up to the drive-in at sunset, putting the car seats down in the back or making a bed in the back of your pickup and getting cozy as the sun goes down,” she told the News-Press, answering questions by email. “It’s those lifelong memories that we are going to create with this series.
“Parents can relive the care-free summer days of their childhood while passing on the tradition with their kids,” Ms. O’Hara said. “University students coming back to Isla Vista can drive over with their roommates. Young couples can have a date night. And adults have a fun and whimsical reason to get out of the house.”
She said she believes people will be excited to have a weekly destination.
First up at bat for the summer film series is “A League of Their Own” (1992). This week’s movie stars Geena Davis as Dottie Hinson, the reluctant star of the Rockford Peaches in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League of 1943. Her coach is Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks), and other stars include Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell as Mordabito and Doris Murphy respectively.
“An all-star cast, funny and charming, fantastic baseball sequences, and a team of talented women that you really root for,” Ms. O’Hara said. “As a young girl, I looked up to the players and their skills, but I also loved all of the characters in the film.”
On July 22, the series will present “The Karate Kid” (1984), starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita.
“It’s hard to resist the friendship between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi,” Ms. O’Hara said. “The movie feels innocent without feeling hokey. Scenes of the teens at the beach and the arcade bring that classic feeling of summer, but the movie has many important messages as well.”
On July 29, there will be a double header, with “42” (2013) at 8:30 and “Field of Dreams” at 10:45.
“42” tells the groundbreaking story of Jackie Robinson, who in 1947 became the first black Major League Baseball player. Mr. Robinson’s jersey number was 42.
“Just the other day, I was walking down State Street, and I saw someone wearing a 42 jersey. Jackie Robinson is an American hero, and though the film can be tough, in the words of the New York Times, it ‘succeeds in respecting the facts of history and the personality of its hero, and in reminding audiences why he mattered,’ ” Ms. O’Hara said.
By the way, Mr. Robinson is portrayed by Chadwick Boseman, who’s familiar to Marvel Comics fans. He starred in the title role of “Black Panther” (2018), which screened just last week during West Wind Drive-in’s usual commercial movies.
The other movie in the July 29 double header is “Field of Dreams,” which in addition to Mr. Costner, stars a man with a great, rich voice: James Earl Jones (the voice of Darth Vader).
On Aug. 5, the series will present “Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable” (2018), the true story of Ms. Hamilton, who at age 13 lost her left arm in a tiger shark attack.
“We really wanted to include a surf movie — we’re in Santa Barbara, right?! Bethany Hamilton is an inspiration,” Ms. O’Hara said. “This is our only documentary in the series, and we love the way Bethany speaks for herself, not to mention some gorgeous and impressive waves!”
On Aug. 12, the series will celebrate another athlete with “Pelé” (2016). It’s about a sports legend who changed soccer. He grew up in the slums of São Paulo, Brazil, and went from playing on the streets to leading Brazil’s national team to its first World Cup victory in 1958 at age 17.
“Great footwork, an inspiring story based on a real-life legend, and a meteoric rise to the top that a great sports movie does so well,” Ms. O’Hara said.
Watch for a cameo by the real-life Pelé.
The series will wrap up Aug. 19 with “Friday Night Lights” (2006), the story of the weekly football games in Odessa, Texas, in 1988 during a time of financial bust.
Ms. O’Hara recommends it.
“Considered one of the best sports movies ever made, this film packs a solid emotional punch and strikes an unexpected tone.”
“Summer Cinema: Game On! Grit, Grace & Glory” features free movies on Wednesday nights July 15 through Aug. 19 at the West Wind Drive-in, 907 S. Kellogg Ave., Goleta. For more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805-893-3535 or go to www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.