Moonlight Film Festival

Moonlight Film Festival
The Awesome Mitten- Moonlight fIlm festival
Photo courtesy Michelle Carlson

The Moonlight Film Festival soon begins again at East Lansing, Valley Court Park. A different film shows outdoors, free of charge, every Thursday night. It starts July 12th with Puss in Boots at 9:30 p.m., and ends with Back to the Future on August 23rd at 9:o0 p.m. Don’t forget to bring a chair or blanket to sit on if you come. The event only cancels when there’s rain.

The Moonlight Film Festival is East Lansing’s walk-in version of the drive-in movie; popular films shown on the big screen, under the stars with friends or family in the spacious park. The festival has offered family-friendly summer nightlife entertainment since the early 2000’s and has remained a town favorite event since then. Michelle Carlson, the community events assistant for East Lansing, says that attendance seems to peak in August, after word gets around and more residents come back.

The Awesome Mitten- Moonlight FIlm Festival
Photo courtesy City of East Lansing

“It sometimes starts out slow in the beginning and as summer goes on,” says Carlson, “more people get done with their vacations, the students start coming back and it gets busier. If it’s nice, a good three hundred to five hundred people come out.”

The movies are chosen to appeal to the many young families in the area as well as the large student population. Carlson explained that thrillers such at Batman–which were shown in the past–might entice college students, but parents will opt out for their youngsters’ sakes. This year, nostalgic classics like ET: the Extra Terrestrial and Back to the Future harken back to old drive-in movie days, while Hugo, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Puss in Boots test the waters with new-generation charms.

The Awesome Mitten- Moonlight Film festival
Photo courtesy City of East Lansing

Local bands set the twilight stage one hour before each show. Although vendors such as Grand Grilling and Melting Moments have added tasty treats in the past, movie-goers are still encouraged to bring their own snacks as well. While July is the best time to beat the crowds, Valley Court Park has more than enough room for everybody.

Located about a block away from Grand River Ave. between Hillside and Valley Ct. streets, Valley Court Park is easy to find and a great place to get away. The park’s the wide-open baseball diamond, shady picnic benches, colorful play structure, and tennis courts seem much further removed from the hectic traffic than the actual few feet that separates them. However, the short venture away from the bustle proves that East Lansing is also a close community.

Check out the Moonlight Film Festival’s full film and music line-up at the Moonlight Homepage, and check out other great events in East Lansing, like their Farmer’s Market and Play in the Park (a popular children’s entertainment series).

~Samantha Stemler, feature writer