In place of their annual summer programming, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival and the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard have joined forces to organize a summer-long drive-in movie theatre for the Island community. The drive-in was approved by the Oak Bluffs selectmen and will be held in the parking lot behind the Martha’s Vineyard Ice Rink.

“When the Covid-19 pandemic hit [there] was this real desire for us to come up with something creative that we could do to bring the Vineyard community together in the summer in a safe and social way,” said YMCA executive director Jill Robie Axtell.

“There was a moment when we had to cancel our annual Film Festival in March,” added Brian Ditchfield, programming director of the Film Festival. “When we had to address whether we were going to sit around, and instead we thought, what is something active that we can do? How can we continue to fulfill this mission?”

Chris Mara walks the parking lot of dreams. — Ray Ewing

The drive-in movies will begin on July 8 and run through August, with four films screened each week, Wednesdays through Saturdays. The opening night film is John Lewis, Good Trouble, a documentary about the congressman and longtime civil rights leader.

The Film Festival and the Y had previously worked together in 2018 on the YMCA’s Stars + Stripes Festival and were excited to work together again.

Tickets for the movies will be pay-what-you-can. Sponsorships are available to help raise additional revenue, with 10 per cent of the proceeds going to the Island Food Pantry and Vineyard House.

The movies will be projected on a 30-foot screen and the audio available via FM transmitter on any radio. The event lineup will include a variety of film genres and forms, ranging from family-favorites to documentaries, some of which explore issues of social justice and inequality.

From parking lot to outdoor cinema will take some muscle. — Ray Ewing

“It felt irresponsible not to look at the issues of our day,” Mr. Ditchfield said.

Ms. Robie Axtell agreed: “It’s definitely something that we’re trying to balance with the social responsibility, which is also. . . one of [the missions] of the YMCA. . . to be socially responsible but at the same time provide recreation and wholesome family fun for our Island families.”

In addition to the opening night film, the first week’s lineup includes Jaws, Wizard of Oz and Do the Right Thing.

With both organizations celebrating significant anniversaries this year — the YMCA turns 10 while the Film Festival recently celebrated 20 years — Mr. Ditchfield and Ms. Robie Axtell said they hope the drive-in series is a memorable one for the community.

“I think our hope is that this becomes something that people will always remember about 2020 on the Vineyard,” said Ms. Robie Axtell.

“We want to try to make this series bigger than the Y and the Film Festival,” she added. “I mean, it’s truly an Island effort.”