It’s been a few months since the COVID-19 crisis began that many Torontonian, including myself stayed home as much as we can to help flatten the curve. Many events either got cancelled or only being held virtually. The Lavazza Drive-In event, organized by Italian Contemporary Film Festival (ICFF Canada) is a welcome fresh breath of air as it is 1 of the first organizers to host a non-virtual event, hosting people in a drive-in setting. It is a true honour for my team and I to collaborate with ICFF Canada to promote and support this wonderful initiative.
Yesterday was the Opening Night for the Lavazza Drive-In event. The featured film was “The Cuban”, directed by Italian/Canadian director, Sergio Navarretta, who has won many acclaimed film awards. The Cuban were supported by a cast of talented actors such as Louis Gossette Jr., Shohreh Aghdashloo, Ana Golja and many more. It’s a film based on a story about a nurse befriends an Alzheimer’s disease patient who tells her about his colorful past as a famous Cuban musician.
I am sure a lot of my followers will be wondering how the drive-in experience was and what type of safety precautions the event implemented to ensure people are maintaining physical distancing and as safe as possible. Below is a list of sequence of my drive-in experience at the Lavazza Drive-In.
My Drive-In Experience:
1. You purchase your tickets online via ICFF.ca. It’s a contactless experience as you purchase it online with your electronic payment.
2. Once you made your purchase, you will receive an email with a purchase confirmation. You can either print out your tickets from the email or you download the e-tix to your Smartphone and then you just show it to the staff at the entrance at the night of the event. I opted to not print out anything as I want to preserve our environment and I found the e-tix to be more efficient.
3. On the night of the event (most films begin at 9:15 pm). I was told by the organizer that the gates open at around 7:00 pm (please check its website for the gate open time). You drive to Ontario Place (which is on Lake Shore Blvd West. The parking lot that features the film is NOT near the Lake Shore Blvd. West, but instead closer towards the Trillium Park and Echo Beach (those who have been to concerts there know where it is). But if not, no worries, there are plenty of staff who will be able to assist you. Usually, there is a short lineup of cars waiting to enter the entrance, so you can also try to spot the small lineup as a way to find the entrance.
4. There are many check points along the lineup to get inside. That’s coz the staff are there to answering any questions you may have and more to ensure you that you get your e-tix ready and knowing what to do next once you entered the premise. I found it extra calmly and soothing since this is probably new protocols for everyone.
5. Then, another staff will scan your e-tix via your Smartphones. All of these staffs are wearing face masks or face shields, so your safety and theirs are safe. They will check the # of people you have in the vehicle.
6. After that, you passed through a gate house, and further into the premise, another staff will welcome you, telling you what to do next, where the washrooms are located and then when it’s your turn, he/she will tell you to follow one of the staff and they will tell you where to park. The parking spot is based on 1st come 1st served basis, so if you want to be closer, you can come early when gates are opened. I was told that there are live DJ music to entertain you.
7. Once you were parked, a friendly staff will welcome you and inform you to download an app if you want to purchase food and beverages. Pizza Nova is available to order. You can also order popcorn. Or you can bring your own food and beverages. We opted to bring our own food and beverages and it’s fine. If you decide to use the app to place your order, staff will deliver right to your vehicle. How do they do that? Well…moment you parked your vehicle, the staff will placed a number on your windshield so when you order, you just need to type in the parking spot # so the staff can deliver the food right to you without you the need to walk to the concession. How convenient and contactless is that?
8. Washrooms. There are mobile washrooms all around the premise, depending on where you parked, you will find one near you. These are not the crappy portable potties. Instead, it’s the fancy ones where it’s air conditioned inside the washrooms. There are many washroom stalls, clean water, towels, soap dispensers to ensure you are as clean and safe as possible. On top of that, they also have washing stations outside the mobile washroom stations to allow you to wash your hands.
9. Chin Radio, the official radio station for this Lavazza Drive-In provides music via your car’s speakers will ask you to tune in their 1540 AM channel. Once the film is about to begin, the MC will tell you to switch to 91.9 FM (at least that’s the case for us). I know some people thinks the speakers are outside at the stage or the TV screen, the sound actually comes from your cars’ speakers.
10. Turning on your radio in your vehicle is the tricky part. Some people think they have to turn on the key ignition with the engine on in order to turn the radio on. And that’s not true. Never turn on your engine coz that’s illegal by law and it’s not environmental friendly with gas being burned. Imagine you burned gas for the entirety of the film you are watching? You don’t need to, turn on your key ignition or start/stop engine button. In my case, our Fiat 500X has a start/stop engine, I pressed the button, not turning on the engine but just tune in the radio, and that was it. Also make sure you turn off your headlights, it’s not only drain your battery but it’s also create discomfort to your fellow moviegoers sitting in front of you.
NOTE: In most of the new vehicles these days, many car manufacturers will only allow your radio to run for like 20 mins before it automatically shuts off. There isn’t anything wrong with your radio if you experience that, this is a standard safety mechanism by your vehicle to ensure you don’t accidentally drained your battery and you can’t drive to work the next day. I know it’s a bit inconvenient, but if the radio turned off, simply just press the start/stop button and just turn on the radio once again and you are good.
11. The honking was fun! Before The Cuban film is being played, politicians, actors, directors and sponsors rolled up to the red carpet station to be interviewed by the MC via Zoom. When our Mayor John Tory rolled up with his vehicle, people start honking. When the film started showing, we honked as well. It was quite an interesting experience as in recent times, there isn’t whole lot of things we can celebrate about. The honking allows us to show our support but creating a vibe to enjoy life again, something positive to enjoy about.
Summary: Overall, we had an amazing time at the Lavazza Drive-In, it was very well-organized, well-executed. The organizer did a great job to train and coordinate with their staff. Everyone seems to know what they were doing and if you have questions, they would be able to answer you. I felt very safe sitting in my vehicle as each vehicle are parked spread apart. I felt safe going to the portable washrooms as they were clean, equipped with disinfectant supplies. Everything was as contactless as possible. From driving into the entrance, parking my vehicle and even leaving, everything was well-organized. The staff ensure there is a system in place to let vehicles exit and not chaotic and conflicts.
Moreover, the organizer selected films from directors and talents from around the world. There are films from Canada, China, Brazil, France, U.K., Italy and more. It showcases diversity and promoting multi-culturalism, which is much needed in the society we are living in.
I highly recommend anyone to purchase tickets and experience and see for themselves with the Lavazza Drive-In, which runs from now and until Friday, July 31 (Closing Night). For more tickets INFO and film schedule, go to ICFF.ca.
The Lavazza Drive-In experience was provided by Italian Contemporary Film Festival (ICFF). However, as always, the opinions expressed in this post is entirely my own.