HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival

Held every Monday at sundown during summer, the HBO-sponsored Film Festival on the luscious lawn at Bryant Park brings New Yorkers together for a chance to view previously released films.  Shadowed by the high-rise buildings of Midtown, Bryant Park is located just behind the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwartzman Building, also known as the Main Branch.  Graciously sponsored and assembled by HBO and Bank of America, the Film Festival offers New Yorkers and visitors the unique opportunity to spread out on the majestic lawn at Bryant Park while enjoying classic movies ranging from Rocky, Dr. No and Indiana Jones, to The Birds, E.T. and Monty Python.  The park opens at 5 p.m., so anyone willing to wait can grab a spot and relax for a few hours before the movie and the rush of viewers.

A pre-movie ritual accompanies the Film Festival.  A speaker often calls out to the audience before the show starts and asks trivia questions about the movie playing that evening.  After a little playful banter, the speaker reaffirms the movie’s 9 p.m. showing and the audience’s rising anticipation is calmed with a few free pieces of candy and other treats from staff of the event.

As the sun descends and lights of the nearest skyscrapers shine upon the field, the crowd lets out an honest sigh.  The screen flickers on, and the viewers’ ears are infiltrated with the warm sound of an introduction coming from the speakers.  A quick, light-hearted Looney Tunes clip plays, followed by a short commercial that for some reason brings the regulars to their feet with an ovation and a light dance.  Finally, the movie begins; the beaming lights above dim and a hush comes over the crowd.  Over the next couple hours, the movie roars throughout the park’s alcove in the skyscrapers, and another wonderful Monday night among New Yorkers is spent in Bryant Park.


Alejandro Font, Student at NYU.

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