Newport Beach Hosts Drive-In Premiere After Postponing Film Festival

August 15, 2020 Updated: August 17, 2020

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.—This year’s Newport Beach Film Festival (NBFF) might have been postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that didn’t stop organizers from holding a sold-out, drive-in world premiere screening of its opening night film on the rooftop of a local shopping mall.

The surfing documentary “A Life of Endless Summers: The Bruce Brown Story” was originally set to open this year’s 21st annual festival in April. The festival was first pushed to August, then delayed indefinitely during the first week of the month due to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

The Aug. 13 screening was held at dusk on the rooftop of the Fashion Island shopping complex in Newport Beach, California. A procession of around 200 vehicles, which each paid a $75 entry fee, delayed the start of the movie while the guests settled in.

Epoch Times Photo
Children watch a movie from the top of a car in Newport Beach, Calif., on Aug. 13, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Epoch Times Photo
Filmmaker Dana Brown waits to introduce a documentary about the life of his father as part of the opening night screening of the postponed Newport Beach Film Festival in Newport Beach, Calif., on Aug. 13, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Epoch Times Photo
Cars line up for a rooftop screening of “A Life of Endless Summers: The Bruce Brown Story” hosted by the Newport Beach Film Festival in Newport Beach, Calif., on Aug. 13, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Andres Anhalt, chief operating officer for The Lot movie theater which co-hosted the evening, called the premiere event “something different than staying at home.”

“We’re thinking outside the box, and we want people to break the routine in a family-oriented way,” Anhalt told The Epoch Times.

Local resident Dan Hoffman brought his daughter Melody to the screening. He told The Epoch Times he heard about the event from friends.

“I saw the original ‘Endless Summer’ years back and this seems like it will be a fun night,” Hoffman said.

“The Endless Summer,” directed by Bruce Brown and originally released in 1964, followed two surfers as they traveled around the world in search of the perfect wave. The movie has since become considered a classic of extreme sports cinema.

Slater Thompson told The Epoch Times, “I grew up watching ‘The Endless Summer.’ My dad was the one who got me into the film. As a surfer and bodyboarder, I am excited for this film.”

“A Life of Endless Summers: The Bruce Brown Story” takes a look back at the surfing legend’s legacy, offering a peek into his life as a director, friend, father, and husband. Brown passed away in 2017 at the age of 80.

The documentary is directed by Dana Brown, Bruce’s eldest son, who followed in his father’s footsteps and is a well-known filmmaker in his own right. Dana’s films include another surf documentary, “Step Into Liquid,” and the racing chronicle “Dust to Glory.”

This year’s NBFF was also slated to honor actor Eugene Levy with its first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award. Instead of an in-person ceremony as originally planned, the actor received the honor virtually on Aug. 11 from fellow performers including Steve Martin, Martin Short, and the cast of Levy’s hit TV show “Schitt’s Creek.”

The NBFF began in 1999 and showcases hundreds of films from around the world. It is the fastest-growing film festival on the West Coast and attracts over 50,000 fans each year.

An updated schedule for the nearly 300 feature and short films planned to air during this year’s festival has not been decided. The NBFF’s website notes that new festival dates will be announced “once it is safe to do so.”

The Lot will continue to screen drive-in movies weekly throughout August as part of its summer series.

John Fredricks contributed to this article.