Big Screen on the Big Green

Johnny Certo's picture

Story Under the Stars is back.

The plane bore down on Cary Grant as the sound of whirling propellers filled the air. It got closer and louder, but at the last second, Grant dodged the diving crop-duster as it flew past. I turned around, half-expecting to see its rudder disappearing into the night sky. I saw trees and stars, but no plane. I refocused my attention to the screen and the first outdoor movie I'd ever attended, Hitchcock's classic thriller, North by Northwest.

Typically, the words "outdoor" and "movie" evoke images of fin-tailed cars and drive-in theaters. Those were good times, I'm sure, but there's a better way to see a movie outside these days: Story Under the Stars. The good people at the Bozeman Film Society know the inherent magic of the outdoors, and for the past few years, they've offered Bozemanites an escape from crowded, stuffy, sticky movie theaters, instead offering an open-air experience on the lawn of the Story Mansion on Bozeman's south side.


Ron Gompertz, vice president of BFS, grew up attending outdoor screenings in New York and San Francisco and is happy to help make them available in Bozeman. "It's a better feeling, being outside and watching a movie, where you can stretch out in your sleeping bag and look up at the sky," he says. This year, BFS will screen Born Free, a 1966 classic about a couple who raises orphaned African lions. "We like to choose films that play off the outdoor aspect," explains Lisa McGrory, executive director of BFS. With all the headlines about African lions in the news these days, this screening is sure to be well-attended, so get there early and spread out your blanket. Pop open your picnic basket and take in all the sights and sounds of a late-summer night in Bozeman.

Last year, before Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a scream contest was held in front of a panel of judges and the highest-scoring screamer took home well-earned prizes. Red Tractor Pizza dished out pie and kids from Kaleidoscope Youth Theater served popcorn and candy. These are just some of the ways BFS hopes to make the event great outdoor fun for the whole family. Story Under the Stars takes place in late August due to early summer's long days and unpredictable weather, so once Sweet Pea is over and you're still craving a night under the big sky, look to BFS for your outdoor fix. They'll continue to provide these great opportunities to enjoy a bit of cinematic culture and spread out under the stars.

This year's show is on Friday, August 28 and is co-sponsored by Friends of the Story Mansion and the Yellowstone Club Community Foundation. For more information, visit

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