In 1933, Richard Hollingshead invented the drive-in movie theatre, a cinema for Americans infatuated with the automobile. For fifty years, the drive-in asserted its place in American culture as a mecca for families and restless teenagers. Today, the “passion pit with pix” has become a dinosaur. Drive-In Blues celebrates the drive-in and laments its decline. Laced with unusual archival trailers, the tone of the film swings between camp and nostalgia.
28 minutes | 1986
Red Ribbon, American Film Festival, New York
Second Prize, Athens International Film Festival
Festival Prize, Humboldt Film Festival
Merit Award and Audience Favorite, Palo Alto Film Festival
Sundance Film Festival
British Short Film Festival
Sydney Film Festival, Australia
Film Forum, 2-week run in New York
Nu Art Theatre, 1-week run in Los Angeles
Red Vic Theatre, 1-week run in San Francisco
Denver International Film Festival
Museum of the Moving Image, London (10-year installation)
USA Film Festival, Dallas
Third Wave International Film and Video Festival, Austin
Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Independent Filmmakers’ Exposition New York
Women in the Director’s Chair, Chicago
American Film Institute, Washington, D.C.
Pacific Film Archive, Curator’s Choice
Flaherty Film Seminar
Austin Drive-In Movie Festival
National Building Museum, Washington, D.C.
Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles
PBS national broadcast
Discovery Channel, U.S.
Discovery Channel, England
Living Room Festival, San Francisco PBS
Breadth of Vision, New England PBS
Mixed Signals, Boston cable
Excerpts on Entertainment Tonight (reviewed by Leonard Maltin)
Excerpts on ABC Good Morning America
“… a poignant video essay… a rollicking eulogy…” – Washington Post
“… a delightful documentary” – People Magazine
“… a sweet little paean to one of the truly great American icons…” Philadelphia Daily News
In the summer of 1985, I traveled 5000 miles throughout the Southwest on the hunt for living, dying, and abandoned drive-ins. I had hoped to include a scene of a screen being built but found that most of the companies that did this work were in survival mode doing billboard construction. One of these businesses gave me permission to film the demolition of a drive-in site. Included in the film are several unique archival trailers and ads that I discovered decaying in projection booths. Since Drive-In Blues was filmed, all but one of the “living” drive-ins featured in the film have gone out of business. In recent years, there has been renewed interest in reviving this uniquely American institution (All Things Considered).
Producer, Director, Editor – Jan Krawitz
Cinematographer – Thomas Ott
Original Music – Tim Kerr
Southwest Alternate Media Project
Texas Commission on the Arts
The University Research Institute of the University of Texas at Austin
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Jan Krawitz is available for speaking engagements with her films at conferences and universities. She also conducts master classes and presents public talks about documentary film as a Visiting Filmmaker.