For 39 summers, Columbia filmgoers have thronged to the Lakefront Film Festival.
Its host and programmer, Tom Brzezinski, aka Mr. B, was holding summer community screenings two years before that. As he said in a series of e-mails, he wanted to give "something back to the community" after he helped open, in September, 1968, the first Howard County public school in Columbia — Bryant Woods Elementary, where he served as the first media specialist/librarian in the county school system.
At first he paid for film rentals out of his own pocket "and took a 16-mm projector, card table, extension cord, clothes-line rope and a bed-sheet to the local park." Eventually, the Columbia Association asked him to move his operation from the Wilde Lake neighborhood to the Columbia Town Center Lakefront. "It's been there ever since," he said.
For Mondays from mid-June through August he schedules "Celebration of Great Films for the Whole Family" (G- or PG-rated). For Fridays he schedules "Something for Everyone" (mostly PG-13). He bases his choices in part on requests. But he always adds his own selections — a foreign film like this year's "Cinema Paradiso" or a silent classic like Chaplin's "The Circus."
"Being a 42-year veteran elementary librarian, I always try to include several titles based on books for children," such as "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "Coraline," he said.
This year more than 600 people turned out for "Date Night," "Avatar" and "The Blind Side," filling "the sloped grassy hillside." He expects similar droves for this Friday's attraction, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl."
"Attendance drops off slightly after the Labor Day weekend, but we still continue until September 20, with films on Friday and Saturday evenings during the last month," Brzezinski said. He's saved some of the best for last, including "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2" on Friday, Sept. 17, and Saturday, Sept. 18, respectively.
"There isn't an evening that goes by when I don't have at least 15-20 persons I've taught over the years, many of whom have grown up and now attend with their families," Brzezinski said. "Attending the summer films has become a Columbia tradition."
The Lakefront Film Festival movies start at dusk at the Columbia Town Center Lakefront. In case of inclement weather, call 410-715-3127.
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