BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Lights, cameras, action. Friday night marks the start of the granddaddy of all the Baltimore summer open air film festivals.

Ron Matz reports all roads lead to Little Italy.

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When the sun goes down, the screen lights up.

“Hairspray,” the 2007 version starring John Travolta, will open the Little Italy Film Festival.

“We’re going to start with ‘Hairspray 2007’ this year, a little different than what we normally do. It’s a John Waters film. We think it’s going to be a good kickoff,” said Maria Vaccaro, Vaccaro’s Italian Pastries.

The festival is now in its 16th year.

“It’s a wonderful time of the year. A lot of community activity, and the film festival is great,” Vaccaro said.

Sabatino’s will be serving up its famous bookmaker salad as Little Italy welcomes hundreds of movie lovers.

“We encourage people to come down and have dinner before attending the free movie. Sabatino’s opens at 11:30 Friday morning, and you can go to Vaccaro’s for dessert,” said Lisa Morekas, Sabatino’s restaurant.

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The festival wouldn’t have happened without the late John Pente. The projector was placed in the third floor bedroom of his home on High Street.

“Mr. John Pente made it happen,” Vaccaro said. “He was awesome. He opened his home to us and the window in his bedroom so we could show the film from his house. He’s been gone for three years now and we truly miss him but his nephew, Ray, resides in the home and still allows us to use his bedroom window to project our films. They’re a beautiful family.”

They’ll show movies here for nine consecutive Friday nights during the summer concluding with “Cinema Paradiso” on Sept. 5.

“It’s my favorite time of the year in Little Italy, Friday nights during the summer. It’s such a vibrant time to be in the neighborhood,” Morekas said.

The entertainment begins at 7 p.m. The movie starts at 9 p.m. Colombo Bank provides free popcorn.

“The restaurants are busy. The streets are crowded. There’s people walking and music playing. It’s just a great, feel-good festival,” Morekas said.

For a complete list of the movies at the Little Italy Film Festival, click here.

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