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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The Hippodrome State Theatre is giving college students an opportunity to reunite with their childhood selves as they embark on a nostalgic journey down memory lane via Hollywood.

The Free Fanciful Film Festival kicks off this weekend with "Jurassic Park" on Friday and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" on Saturday, each at 11 p.m.

It will continue the two following weekends with "Wet Hot American Summer" on Sept. 7, "Aliens" on Sept. 8, "Ghostbusters" on Sept. 14 and "Army of Darkness" on Sept. 15. All of the shows are free and begin at 11 p.m.

"All these movies have two things in common: They are all extremely popular - some even with cult followings - and they would all be very entertaining to watch on the big screen," said Kyle Sandell, a sophomore at UF who was either not born yet or too young to remember when the movies were released in theaters. "'Jurassic Park' is what I'm looking forward to most. Seeing it on the big screen with surround sound will be amazing."

Most of the movies are linked by their various cinematic awards, numerous references in pop culture and the fact that they are hailed as "cult classics" by those who were teenagers between 1985 and 1995.

"It's just a fun, free night at the movies," said Katie Gillen, the cinema manager at the Hippodrome State Theatre. "They're all movies that we felt people of the college-age generation would be interested in seeing at the theater because you don't get the full effect of the movie until you see it on the big screen."

Gillen and her fellow department managers at the Hippodrome picked the panel of movies based on what they personally were most interested in watching, she said.

Students seem interested, too.

"I consider them classics because they were good movies in years past," said Dana Baum, a UF freshman who has not seen any of the movies before. "I'm more likely to go see them in the theater now so I can get that experience. I feel like I missed out on them because I was too young when they were popular."

Baum enjoys that she can see the films in the movie theater for free rather than renting them from a video store because it gives her the sense of being a moviegoer in that era.

Gillen hopes that will be one of the festival's main attractions.

"If people like this idea, the best thing they can do to support it is just show up and show us they like it," she said.

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Depending on this festival's turnout, Gillen might consider the idea of hosting a similar film festival around Halloween with all zombie movies, she said.

Hippodrome's full bar will feature special drinks during the festival that coincide with each movie's theme.

Gillen suggests that those interested in attending the film festival pick up their free tickets at the box office as soon as possible because the event is likely to fill up.

The box office will be open from noon to 9 p.m. every day except for the days of the showings, when it will be open until showtime unless the theater fills up beforehand.

"These movies have an aura to them now," Sandell said. "They bring back childhood memories if you've seen them before, and you essentially go back in time and see it again for the first time."

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