BALTIMORE (WJZ)—When the 13th Annual Little Italy Film Festival begins Friday night it will be a bittersweet moment. It will do so without the man who made it all possible.

Ron Matz has more on a Baltimore original who helped bring a community together.

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Sunrise in Little Italy where they’re remembering their good friend John Pente.

He was 100 when he died nearly a year ago.

“The story always goes back to Mr. John,” said Maria Vaccaro, of Vaccaro’s Bakery. “He was a wonderful guy. He let us use his bedroom window to show the film. He was out there every Friday night with us through the years, and his family would come out too.”

In 1999, Pente gave the okay to put a movie projector in a third floor bedroom of his house on High Street, and the Little Italy Film Festival was born.

“They came over and talked to me and asked if I would do it, put a projector in my bedroom. I said ‘if it’s good for the neighborhood, fine, go ahead.’ So that was the beginning of the story,” Pente said in a WJZ interview last year.

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“Moonstruck” starts the festival Friday night. Over nine weeks, thousands of people will enjoy cinema al fresco.

“I’ve known about it for years,” said Buddy Conwell, of Hampden. “It’s great. It brings the community together. It’s a good thing.”

Goodies from Vaccaro’s will be ready, including their famous canoli chip and dip.

The evening starts with music. There’s free popcorn from the Colombo bank. And bring your own chair.

“The best part is I watch all these people from my top floor. You watch like 2000 people spread out over here. It’s a beautiful sight,” Pente said last year.

Pente’s house was bought by his nephew who vows to continue the festival. Films begin at 9 o’clock on Friday nights during July and August.

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